Japan’s “ultimate trade barrier” consists of technical standards established due to the market dominance of its larger companies and government policies, according to John McIntyre, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).

Despite this forbidding barrier, Georgia companies such as Scientific-Atlanta and Southwire are committed to selling their products in the world’s second largest national economy, convinced that with deregulation more opportunities will become available.

Scientific-Atlanta, which manufactures high tech communications equipment, has experienced some success in Japan due in part to its cooperation 

with industrial giant, Matsushita.  Meanwhile, Southwire has made only “slow progress” in Japan, having to go it alone.

A CIBER-sponsored conference held on May 19 at Georgia Tech focused on Japanese technical standards during this critical period of U.S.-Japanese trade relations.  U.S. Commerce Department officials spoke of the possibility of more barriers being erected in different business sectors.  But Stanley Warshaw, senior policy adviser for Standards and Technology at the agency, said that he has seen some softening in the Japanese position during the past 10 years.

Brian Woodall, a political scientist at Georgia Tech, said standards serve to protect entrenched interests as well as to promote new industries.  Dr. McIntyre added, however, that pressure from political parties, citizens and other governments has placed Japan “on the verge of examining its industrial standards” and forcing it to consider deregulation.

Other conference speakers praised the strength of Japan’s cellular, electronic-packaging and automobile markets.

Larry Enterline, president of Scientific-Atlanta’s International Division of the Broadband Group, said his company “ended up doing very well” in recent years due to its association with Matsushita.

Southwire’s Ridley Thrash, chief engineer for overhead conductors in the Wire and Cable Technology Group, said that his firm finally had “formed some good relationships and “is beginning to move forward in Japan” after six years of trying to enter the market.

For more information, Dr. McIntyre may be reached at (404) 894-4379; fax (404) 894-1552.