Cashing In The Chips

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia: Intense negotiations between the U.S. and Japan, which continued past their Wednesday deadline, have successfully averted a trade war. Both sides are claiming victory, with acting U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky calling the deal "responsive to the views of the Clinton Administration", and her counterpart, Japanese Trade Minister Shunpei Tsukahara, saying the deal was almost exactly the same as Japan's version of the plan. Until the agreement was announced today, U.S. negotiators were arguing that the inroads American computer chips had made in the Japanese market were in jeopardy if no transition agreement could be reached. The U.S. share of the huge Japanese semiconductor market has reached 30 percent, exceeding the 20 percent share established back in 1991 in a trade deal vehemently resented by the Japanese. "A pattern has emerged between the two countries," says TIME's Lewis Simons. "At trade talks, the U.S. threatens huge sanctions, and the talks go down to the wire. In this case, the Japanese are claiming they haven't given up very much, which means the agreement leaves room for interpretation, and will require observation and enforcement. For the moment, at least, the U.S. chip position in Japan is not in real danger." Scot Woods