Wednesday, October 3, 2012

More on Free Trade

Eamonn Fingelton looks into some of the facts of the international auto market in Japan:
Yet facts are facts. Here are a few which, though they remain hidden from most Americans, are widely known to media commentators, diplomats, Japan scholars, and of course aspiring presidential candidates:
  1. The Japanese government has used a plethora of constantly evolving regulations to keep the combined share of all non-Japanese automakers to just 4 percent of the Japanese market. The share never varies, whether the yen is strong or weak. (The yen is up nearly 50 percent against the dollar in the last five years.)
  2. The Detroit corporations, in common with all major automakers, make many cars in Europe configured for Britain’s drive-on-the-left roads, and by extension for Japan’s. They also make countless components and assemblies that have been shut out of Japan for no other reason than that they are not made there.
  3. Even Volkswagen, which sells broadly as many cars around the world as Toyota, has been allocated—that is the right word—just 1 percent of the Japanese market; by contrast Toyota’s share is close to 40 percent. (Volkswagen is lucky, incidentally: Hyundai’s share is 0.02 percent and Daewoo’s 0.003 percent, and this in a country where close to 1 percent of the people are ethnic Koreans.)

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