The FTC believes the Japanese subsidiary of the U.S. sports giant Nike Inc. suspended shipments of popular shoes in order to maintain high prices.
The Japanese News agency Kyodo News reported FTC sources as saying Nike Japan allegedly instructed retailers to keep the prices of Nike running shoes at current levels despite a cut in demand for some models.
Nike Japan was surprised by the FTC action. "We were surprised by the raid but we are cooperating with authorities," says a spokes- man for Nike Japan. The company will not make any further comment until the investigation has been concluded.
One of the items falling under the FTC probe is Nike's Air Max shoe. The sports shoe can fetch about $157 a pair in Japan, which is significantly higher than in other major markets.
Japan's FTC has been criticized by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the European Union, the World Trade Organization and numerous other governmental and international trade groupings for being, at times, a biased and ineffectual trade watchdog.
Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.