Japan is an appropriate site for this weekend's meeting of the top four trading powers. Officials from the European Union, Japan, the United States and Canada will press Asian nations to table proposals for dismantling barriers to entry in their telecommunications markets before an April 30 deadline set by the World Trade Organisation. In telecommunications deregulation, as in few other sectors, Japan has led rather than followed. This is an area where, despite their pressure on others, neither the US nor the European Union (with some honourable exceptions among member states) has much to boast about. But it is in the rest of Asia that dominant government monopolies remain the rule. This is a region where telephone densities are among the lowest outside Africa and the telecoms markets could benefit most from deregulation. Nevertheless, while many governments see the benefits of both private sector participation and competition, most still insist on local, often state-owned, partners retaining majority shares. China is keen to acquire funds, services and technology to develop its infrastructure. But it accepts no foreign equity investments. Even Hong Kong, with high telephone densities and technologically advanced systems, has a monopoly franchise for international calls. These governments could take a leaf from Japan's book. The purpose of the talks is to press for further liberalisation, a sound move for the whole region. There is room for each country's telecommunications business to invest in others and acquire much needed input from outside. Telecommunications is perhaps the most global industry of them all. No country can afford to keep out the competition forever.