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UTAHN IN COMMERCE POST TO BATTLE U.S. TRADE DEFICT

SHARE UTAHN IN COMMERCE POST TO BATTLE U.S. TRADE DEFICT

Jon Huntsman Jr. son of the Utah chemical-company tycoon - oversaw expansion of his father's business into the Soviet Union, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore.

Now he helps oversee expansion of all American business into the same and other areas - a job he feels will shape America's future foreign relations more than its military might or political quests.Huntsman is now deputy assistant secretary of commerce - making him one of the generals fighting to reduce America's trade deficit.

For that, he took a cut in pay from his old job as vice president for international business at his father's Huntsman Chemical Corp.

"I've always looked for an opportunity to get more involved in public service. Perhaps it's that old notion of noblesse oblige or simple altruism," Huntsman said. "I believe that our family has been given a lot, and I feel I can spend at least a little time giving something back in public service."

He had been in government service before, working on the advance arrangements staff for former President Reagan. But this time around, he wanted to deal with foreign policy.

That interest, plus his experience and globe-trotting for Huntsman Chemical, landed him in Commerce's International Trade Administration and on the front lines of the trade deficit-reduction war.

Among his specific assignments is chairing several task forces to improve U.S.-Soviet trade - a natural for him since he helped work out details of last year's pioneering joint venture between Aeroflot, the Marriott Corp. and Huntsman Chemical to provide airline food and containers in the Soviet Union.

Huntsman also oversees expansion worldwide of American construction industries and sales of capital goods - ranging from heavy machinery to food processing equipment.

"It is a satisfying experience because I think more and more as time goes on, our relationships with other nations will be more dependent upon our economic and trade relations as opposed to the political and military relationships of the past," he said.

"The Soviet Union is a very good example. Our relationship is becoming less and less political. It's becoming more and more economic and trade-related. And that is happening with many other countries throughout the world."

Ironically, while he is trying to expand American business into the Soviet Union, he says he knows virtually nothing about Huntsman Chemical's expansion activities there now.

He said he is careful not to talk about it to his father to ensure he does not violate government conflict-of-interest rules."

Huntsman said he is also finding working in government is more complicated than working in business.

"In the private sector, you could formulate and implement policies almost instantaneously. When you are working within the confines of a bureaucracy, it has to go through the various layers. It is a more time-consuming process that can lead to frustration."

His trade-mission travels so far have taken him throughout the Middle East and Asia, where he's learned that Saudi Arabia is a Mecca (so to speak) for sales of American refrigeration equipment, while Taiwan is involved with more major projects than almost any country attracting American construction companies.

But he has found major roadblocks to trade, too, such as when he had to cancel a trade mission to mainland China in protest of its attack on freedom protesters.

"We have stopped all high-level contact with China and continue to follow that policy," he said. "Although China is not a market we can easily throw by the wayside since it is the largest country in terms of population, there are a lot of natural resources there, and they are in dire need of basic infrastructure development. We need to keep that basic line of communication open."

While he works to solve trade barriers for American business, he says one of the major challenges he sees for American commerce is simply convincing American businesses that they should deal overseas in the first place.

"That is a very difficult first step," he said, from first-hand knowledge at Huntsman Chemical. "We (American businesses) have been very successful and happy in our own backyard. But we have reached a point in time where we can no longer do business in our own backyard. We have to reach out to the rest of the world."

Otherwise, he says, the trade-deficit war is lost.