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Increased Japanese Imports Will Cost Jobs, Automakers, Union Say

March 28, 1985

DETROIT (AP) _ Thousands of Americans will lose their jobs because of Japan’s plans to increase automobile exports to the United States, domestic automakers and the United Auto Workers union said Thursday.

″Holding down imports to a 25-percent increase is no cause for celebration,″ said David N. McCammon, vice president-controller of Ford Motor Co. ″The net result will be a flood of Japanese shipments to the United States. American jobs will be lost and the trade deficit will soar even higher.″

UAW President Owen Bieber said, ″The Japanese auto manufacturers are preparing to unleash a flood of additional exports to this market.″

The 25 percent increase in Japanese car exports to the United States ″translates into 90,000 fewer jobs for American workers,″ Bieber claimed.

The first U.S. industry reaction to the higher Japanese export limits came before the official announcement Thursday in Tokyo.

″There is no surprise in the Japanese decision,″ Chrysler Corp. said Wednesday. ″The American worker and the American economy will suffer because 2.3 million cars coming over here from Japan in the next 12 months is going to cost American jobs and it’s going to worsen a trade deficit already out of control.″

Chrysler said the increase in Japanese car shipments is ″the equivalent of two assembly plants and six or seven supplier plants and all the jobs that go along with them.″

General Motor Corp., the nation’s largest automaker, said it would have no comment until ″we actually have notification that the government has officially made this announcement in Japan,″ spokesman Don Postma said Thursday.

″It’s a sensitive issue and we want to hear it from our own shop before we say anything,″ he said.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said in Washington he would continue to seek Congressional action to protect American autoworkers jobs from Japanese competition.

″I think the Japanese must be laughing at us all the way to the bank,″ he said. ″But I’m not mad at them. They’re only doing what President Reagan said they could do.″

″The only remedy is for the Congress to adopt a law or a resolution telling the Japanese that we are going to continue real restraints in trade until they open their markets to American markets for American commodities which they now discriminate against,″ Levin said.

The Senate voted such a resolution 92-0 Thursday afternoon.

Sen. Donald Riegle, D-Mich., said increasing Japanese auto shipments to the United States would increase the trade deficit by nearly $5 billion and cost an estimated 90,000 American jobs.

″This is causing severe long-term damage to the American economy - and I shall be supporting a wide range of legislative initiatives designed to compel Japan to stop its trade invasion - and achieve a balance of trade with the United States,″ Riegle said.

Market analysts in New York, however, said the automakers would remain profitable in today’s expanding market, despite increased competition from the Japanese.

″At this point in 1985, ... the auto pie is big enough to be shared by everyone,″ said Scott Merliss, analyst with Shearson-American Express. ″But if it shrinks, the exports will grab a larger share of it.″

Jean-Claude Gruet, securities analyst with Dean Witter Reynolds, said he expected Japanese automakers to show restraint over the long run.

″They don’t want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg,″ Gruet said. ″In the longer term, they’ll produce more cars in the U.S. to promote goodwill.″

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