President Committed

To Canadian TalksThe Journal of Commerce is right on target in its analysis of the importance of the trade liberalization talks with Canada (Don't Ignore Canada, JofC, Feb. 3). Lowering the trade barriers between the United States and Canada would provide enormous economic benefits for both our nations well into the 21st Century.

I am perplexed, however, by your assessment that the administration has not paid enough attention to the negotiations. These talks have been and are a very high priority for the United States. We have assembled a first-class negotiating team that has the full confidence of the president. A great deal of background work has already been done by the team, our private sector advisers and the U.S. International Trade Commission. We just haven't shouted that from the treetops.

Because of the sensitive nature of these negotiations, we are trying to conduct them away from the glare of publicity. But the absence of daily press releases should not be interpreted as a lack of commitment on the part of either side. I have repeatedly said that the Canada negotiations are the most important bilateral trade talks in U.S. history.

President Reagan restated his support for the talks in last month's State of the Union address. We cannot be more clear that these negotiations are not on anyone's "back burner."

It must be remembered, however, that Congress will have the final say on this agreement. In order to ensure congressional approval we will continue working closely with the private sector and the Congress to ensure that the final agreement is viable and in the common interest of both countries.

Clayton Yeutter U.S. Trade Representative Washington, D.C.

5 Finance Ministers

And King Canute

Unless you suspect that the five finance ministers who met in Paris last weekend really knew that they were bound to fail, you malign poor old King Canute. (Futile Effort, Page 15A, 2/20,87.)

Check the history books. Canute was a popular and generally successful king, so successful that sycophantic courtiers ascribed to him extraordinary powers. The exercise on the seashore was Canute's method of demonstrating to the fans that he was not omnipotent.

There could be present day parallels for the Canute story but the meeting of finance ministers is not one of them.

Tim Colton Washington, D.C.

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