Here is a little something I thought was interesting. Micron Technology Inc, choosing a tougher trade weapon than the rest of the US semiconductor industry has used so far, filed an antidumping petition against seven Japanese producers of a widely used variety of computer chips.
The petition seeks duties on Japanese-supplied 64K Dram chips – dynamic random access memory chips capable of storing 64,000 bits of information – equivalent to 94 per cent of their current US prices. Such a severe penalty would wipe out much of Japan’s recent gains in the US market and give distressed US suppliers a lift.
By striking directly at imported Japanese chips, Micron Technology of Boise, Idaho, broke from the ranks of other US chip makers, which so far are backing an earlier Semiconductor Industry Association petition to improve member access to the Japanese market. ‘We also support the SIA petition, but different companies have different philosophies and this is the way we’ve chosen,’ said Larry Grant, Micron’s legal counsel.
The association chose a market opening rather than an attack on curbing imports because some of its members, such as Motorola and Texas Instruments, produce semiconductors in Japan, some of which could be shipped back for use in the US. Micron Technology is not an association member and has more flexibility in fighting Japanese competition.
In dumping cases, the Commerce Department must rule whether sales are being made at less then fair value, and the US International Trade Commission must rule whether the domestic company is being injured. Both findings must be affirmative for penalty duties to be assessed.
If Micron is successful, other US manufacturers may take anti-dumping actions.
In California’s Silicon Valley, speculation is running high that one or several companies will soon file additional anti-dumping complaints against the Japanese makers of Eproms, an acronym for erasable, programmable read-only memory chips. Two major Eprom makers, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, were named recently in a well-publicized Hitachi memo to its distributors to undercut Intel and Advanced Micro prices.
In Toyko last week, US trade negotiators informed Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry of the US Semiconductor Industry Association’s charges. The association alleged that supply arrangements among leading Japanese electronics companies which both produce and use semiconductors keep US products out of Japan.
Akio Morita, the chairman of Sony, speaking of the Electronic Industries Association of Japan, called the US group’s charges ‘unjustified,’ and Japanese diplomats claimed that the San Jose, California-based trade body misrepresented the US share of the Japanese market. ‘Counting the production of Japan-based US companies, the US share is closer to 19 per cent than the 11 per cent the SIA claims,’ said a Japanese embassy spokesman in Washington.
While the association’s petitin does not promise any certain results, Micron’s anti-dumping action triggers an investigatory process with a set timetable for the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission to act. The Japanese companies cited are Fujitsu, Hitachi, Masushita Electric, Mitsubishi, NEC, OKI and Toshiba.