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Japanese buying worries U.S.

A new survey shows that the share of foreign-made PCs bought by the Japanese government is steadily dwindling.

American computer manufacturers and the U.S. Trade Representative are worried about a new survey showing that the number of foreign-made computers purchased by Japanese government agencies is steadily dwindling.

The figures are alarming because the Japanese government is supposed to be expanding the amount of U.S. technology it purchases under various trade agreements.

The market share of non-Japanese servers bought by the Japanese government fell to 9.3 percent in 1996, down from 10.2 percent in 1995 and 13.7 percent in 1994, according to a study undertaken by the Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP). Foreign-made PCs similarly slumped to 7.7 percent in 1996, the latest year for which figures are available, declining from 11.4 percent in 1995 and 15 percent a year earlier.

Non-governmental Japanese customers, meanwhile, are buying four times as many "foreign" computers, CSPP said.

"The continued downward trend in Japanese government procurement of foreign computers?runs[s] counter to the goals of our bilateral agreement with Japan on computers?[and] is also inconsistent with the relative success that U.S. computer firms have enjoyed in the Japanese market overall," said Charlene Barshefsky, the United States Trade Representative, in a prepared statement.

"U.S. computer manufacturers are confronting significant revenue losses in Japan's public sector market," Eckhard Pfeiffer, CEO of Compaq and chair of CSPP's committee of Japanese purchases, added in a statement.

The Bilateral Trade Agreement, concluded between Japan and the United States during President George Bush's infamous 1992 trip to the Asian country (when he grew ill at a state dinner), calls for expanding Japanese government purchase of foreign computer equipment. Representatives from the two governments will meet this summer to discuss its implementation, according to a statement from the Trade Representative's office.

The CSPP is a group of CEOs from major American computing companies, such as Compaq, Sun, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM, that develops public policy positions on technology and trade and lobbies official Washington. Extant since 1989, CSPP undertakes its survey of Japanese purchasing once a year.