US TRADE TALKS ON BRAZIL, JAPAN MAY PAY OFF US OPTIMISTIC ON BRAZIL TIES

US TRADE TALKS ON BRAZIL, JAPAN MAY PAY OFF US OPTIMISTIC ON BRAZIL TIES

The Bush administration hopes its biggest trade dispute with Brazil will be settled soon.

Carla Hills, the U.S. trade representative, is "quite optimistic" that many of the U.S. "problems" with Brazilian trade policy can be resolved amicably, her general counsel, Joshua Bolten, said.The biggest dispute is over Brazil's import licensing practices, which the United States says is serious enough to warrant a "Super 301" negotiation.

Under Super 301, the U.S. government alerts a foreign nation that if it does not remove a trade problem by a fixed time, it may be hit with U.S. trade reprisals.

The new Brazilian government, which took office March 15, is proposing the kind of economic program that "stands a good chance" of resolving the import licensing dispute as well as other trade frictions, Mr. Bolten told reporters.

He also held out hope for progress on another front - a U.S. complaint against Japan, West Germany, Norway and South Korea on shipbuilding subsidies.

The United States is making "reasonably good progress" in these negotiations, he said.

Mr. Bolten's remarks came as the trade representative released the latest annual report citing foreign trade barriers around the world that impede U.S. exports.

Japan again was a bigger target in the report than any other nation. The number of pages in the report listing Japanese barriers was double or more the number of any other nation.

But Mr. Bolten seemed to try to minimize this, noting that "the more trade you have, the more potential for friction."

The United States and Japan are due today to resume here talks aimed at reducing "structural" barriers to U.S.-Japanese trade.

The United States will seek concessions from Japan ranging across issues like retail store policy, land reform, public works spending and tougher antitrust law enforcement.

Mr. Bolten declined to predict the results of the Japanese talks, this week or thereafter. They are due to be completed by July.

"It's too early to say what exactly is going to happen" this week, he said. So far, he acknowledged, the talks have produced "no dramatic results, but frankly, we didn't expect them."

Overall, the 216-page foreign trade barriers report "shows very little change" from the report of a year ago, noted Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. The report's length is virtually the same as in 1989.

But, Mr. Bolten said, there has been "some significant progress" in reducing the barriers. For example, he noted, the United States and South Korea reached agreement two weeks ago on South Korea's opening its market to U.S. beef.