JAPAN'S CAR EXPORTS TO US SEEN BELOW 2 MILLION

JAPAN'S CAR EXPORTS TO US SEEN BELOW 2 MILLION

Japanese automobile exports to the U.S. market will drop beneath 2 million units in the fiscal year ending this month, an industry leader predicted here Thursday.

Shoichiro Toyoda, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers' Association, told reporters that the decline in shipments is due largely to the steady transferal of car production to U.S. plants.The industry's shipments to the U.S. market are expected to total around 1.9 million units in fiscal 1989, he said. For years, Japanese automakers have ''voluntarily" limited auto exports to the United States to 2.3 million units.

U.S.-bound exports will continue to decline, Mr. Toyoda said, as more Japanese automakers establish production bases within the United States or boost output of existing factories there.

Japanese exports of auto parts to the United States, although temporarily rising, eventually will decline, he said, because the U.S. subsidiaries of Japanese companies gradually are expanding local procurement of parts.

Mr. Toyoda said officials of his organization plan to meet with representatives of a U.S. association of auto parts manufacturers in Las Vegas on April 5-6. The two sides are expected to discuss increased purchases of U.S. auto parts by the Japanese companies' U.S. units.

Some U.S. legislators and industry executives have been pressing the Bush administration to cite auto parts as a trade sector where the Japanese engage in unfair purchasing practices. This would make auto-parts trade subject to possible retaliation under the 1988 Omnibus Trade Act.

Mr. Toyoda, who also is president of Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's largest automaker, went on to predict that Japanese demand for imported cars will soar by 30 percent, to about 250,000 units, in the fiscal year beginning next month.