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Thursday, Oct. 23, 1997

Ford CEO wants greater access to Japanese market


Staff WriterCHIBA -- Ford Motor Co. hopes for greater foreign access to the Japanese market and a yen strong enough to change Japanese automakers' tendency to over-rely on exports, the company's head said Oct. 23.In an interview with The Japan Times, Alex Trotman, chairman and CEO of Ford, said that while Ford is committed to the Japanese and other foreign markets, he has been disappointed by the progress the firm has made in Japan since the country signed an agreement with the U.S. in 1995. Ford is targeting an increase in sales in Japan from the current 45,000 units to 200,000 in the early 21st century. To achieve the goal, the automaker needs to upgrade its sales outlets, the chairman said. "We haven't signed up with as many dealers as we wanted," Trotman said. "I still like to see us sign up with very high quality dealers."Ford currently has 307 outlets in Japan. Despite the opening of new outlets during the past two years, the total number has not changed due to restructuring, according to the company. Trotman, however, expressed a positive outlook that the Japanese market will evolve. "The Japanese market is slowly changing," he said. "I think it is taking longer than we expected. But I think the change will come."Turning to the exchange rate, the head of the second largest U.S. automaker said that the yen is too weak and that the appropriate rate would be between 100 yen to 110 yen to the dollar. He said that Japanese auto manufacturers have a tendency to increase exports as the yen's value decreases. But, he warned, if the U.S. trade deficit with Japan increases, "tension will grow."Regarding global warming and the Third Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Kyoto in December, Trotman said that a legally binding agreement that does not include all nations would not be sound. He said that only partial agreement would not result in a significant reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and that signatory nations would develop a severe economic dislocation."There are some calls from the U.S. (indicating) that developing countries will be involved in some way in an agreement in Kyoto," he said, commenting on the recent U.S. proposal. "We welcome that, because we believe that an agreement that involves only the developed countries and excludes a hundred-some developing countries would not be a smart policy."



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