Japanese officials have told their United States counterparts in recent meetings that they expect their country's trade surplus to keep on rising until 1998, a senior Japanese delegate said. 'We told them our best estimate was that the trade surplus would keep rising for four of five more months, but that it should plateau in 1998,' the official said. He declined to be named. The delegate said Ministry of International Trade and Industry surveys showed that vehicle exports, the main component of the surplus, were peaking. 'We do not think the US will be too concerned about our [annual] surplus in services and trade until it reaches double its current level of five trillion yen [about HK$311.7 billion].' He said US Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan was called into Japanese Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka's meeting with US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin after Japan began to outline a plan to stimulate its economy by securitising its property market. 'We were very surprised to see him at the meeting but it turned out he wanted to explain to us his own experience with securitising real estate,' the official said. 'He told us that at first the real estate was likely to be sold at an incredibly low price, but that in the long run it would be good for the market.' Asked if the US was satisfied with Japan's explanation of the trade surplus and plans to stimulate the economy, the official said: 'Satisfying the US is not the purpose of our policy decisions.' He said Japan's Finance Ministry had changed the way it negotiated with the US and other nations. 'The ministry has always negotiated with other countries the same way it negotiates with other ministries at budget time. It says 'no, we cannot, it is impossible', and then, at the last minute, it gives in,' the official said. 'That may be fine for budget negotiations, but it does not work for international talks. 'Now, when something is possible, we will say so right up front, and when we say no, we will mean no.'