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Home > Books & Journals > Book Review Last Updated: 14:22 03/09/2007
Book Review #38: October 21, 2002

"Issues and Options for U.S.-Japan Trade Policies"

edited by Robert M. Stern

Reviewed by Takahiro Miyao (GLOCOM)

Title: Issues and Options for U.S.-Japan Trade Policies
Editor: Robert M. Stern
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Date/Time: 2002
Pages: English text 450 pages (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0-472-11279-1


There has recently been a heated debate on patents between Japanese and American specialists on the GLOCOM Platform. In particular, Chuo University Professor Hiroshi Konno criticizes the "absurdly low" standard for patent examinations on the part of the U.S. patent office (, while Tokyo's U.S. Embassy Economic Counselor James Zumwalt insists that the U.S. standard is not that different from its Japanese and European counterparts, arguing for more cooperation between the two countries (

Here is an excellent exposition of the historical development and current issues on this topic in Chapter 7 of this volume on issues and options for U.S.-Japan trade policies. This chapter, "intellectual property issues for the United States and Japan: disputes and common interests," is written by University of Colorado professor Keith E. Maskus, who once served as a consultant for World Intellectual Property Organization and other related agencies.

First of all, Professor Maskus emphasizes the fact that a new set of multilateral rules for patent protection has been established by the WTO Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the U.S. and Japan share a broad commonality of interests in supporting such a new regime for global intellectual property rights at least over the medium term. In the immediate term, however, the two countries seem to have concerns about each other's patent systems, which are neatly explained in this chapter.

The remaining issues include (1) whether Japan's standards for intellectual property rights are too stringent to have effective international competition (the TRIPS approach seems inadequate to deal with cross-border agreements and constraints, according to Professor Maskus), (2) how to deal with intellectual property rights for genetically modified organisms in connection with environmental regulation, and (3) how to develop standards for international information on centralized clearing of copyrights on the Internet.

In conclusion, Professor Maskus sides with the bilateral approach at least in the short run, although he maintains that the U.S. and Japan share their common interest in shaping the future of global intellectual property rights over the medium term.

The following is from the publisher's website:
Issues and Options for U.S.-Japan Trade Policies
Robert M. Stern, editor

Addresses the central negotiating issues involving the trade policies and relations between the United States and Japan.

Because of the close economic links between the United States and Japan, it is important to develop a better understanding of these links and how they may be turned to the advantage of the two nations and their trading partners by improvements in the international policy environment. This book deals with the potential for such improvements as part of formal government-to-government negotiations in the multilateral context in the World Trade Organization (WTO), regionally in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and bilaterally with the administration of national trade laws and the negotiation of free trade agreements. The chapters represent a spectrum of economic and legal approaches to the evaluation of policies and institutions. The multilateral issues cover the economic effects of a new WTO negotiating round, including reform of Japan's agricultural policies, services liberalization, antidumping, intellectual property rights, and trade and the environment. The regional issues include theoretical and simulation analysis of the benefits of preferential trading arrangements and the APEC policy of open regionalism. U.S.-Japan bilateral relations include analysis of the major actions and positions taken by the two nations in the context of their national trade laws and policies, how their trade policies are implemented, the effects of bilateral trade agreements, and the interplay of legal decisions reached in WTO actions with measures undertaken by the two nations.

Robert M. Stern is Professor Emeritus of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He has been an active contributor to international economic research and policy for over four decades. He has published numerous papers and books on a wide variety of topics, including international commodity problems, the determinants of comparative advantage, price behavior in international trade, balance-of-payments policies, the computer modeling of international trade and trade policies, and trade and labor standards. He is also the series editor for the University of Michigan Press's Studies in International Economics.

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