Firms Widely Oppose
Plant-Closings ProvisoYour reporter's unnamed business source obviously wasn't too clued in to the strength of the business community's opposition to the plant-closings provision of the trade bill when he said the National Association of Manufacturers was unable to get a wide cross-section of U.S firms to sign a petition backing a presidential veto (Second Trade Bill Not Out of Question, Reagan Aide Says, April 27).
Not only is there a wide cross-section of U.S. firms opposing the trade bill with a plant-closings provision, but the companies are also very vocal and committed. Members of a business coalition headed by NAM have been making daily visits to Capitol Hill offices, calling members of Congress and briefing legislative staff and reporters about just how bad the plant-closings provision is.
An open letter to Congress that was delivered April 26 was signed by more than 175 companies and associations, and the number of signers grows hourly. The letter makes no bones about our opposition to the bill, and our determination to convince Congress to sustain a presidential veto. I believe this constitutes a wide cross-section of U.S. firms.
Jerry J. Jasinowski, Executive Vice President
National Association of Manufacturers, Washington
In Shipping Article
I read with interest the commentary by Mary R. Brooks, Shipping Under U.S.-Canada Pact (Opinion, April 19).
Ms. Brooks neglects to mention that while Canadian shipping interests were using the U.S.-Canada free trade agreement negotiations to gain access to U.S. cabotage trades, they also supported a government-backed bill (C-52), which will make Canadian cabotage policy much more restrictive than in the past. The legislation contains a provision to extend Canadian cabotage to the full 200- mile limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone, forbids dual mode movements (available in the United States for Canadian operators) and is especially restrictive of the activities of smaller, shallow draft, non-Canadian cruise and excursion vessels that comprise a healthy and growing segment of the U.S. merchant marine.
Also unmentioned in her article is the fact that the 50 percent ad valorem fee on non-emergency repair of U.S.-flag vessels in Canadian shipyards is being repealed by the United States to the advantage of Canada.
In addition, Ms. Brooks concludes that a defense rationale for support of the U.S. merchant marine is flawed. Her views are not shared by the Department of Defense, the Commission on the Merchant Marine and Defense or a bipartisan majority of Congress. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have determined that the majority of militarily useful U.S.-flag tankers are employed in the domestic trades.
The U.S. Jones Act fleet also supports a substantial portion of the trained seafaring manpower pool, already in critically short supply. The shallow draft segment of the fleet carries a substantial portion of the petroleum products used by the Pentagon and provides essential transportation service for the U.S. economy in peace or war.
Recently, top U.S. military officials have testified before Congress regarding the nation's inability to support U.S. forces in a NATO contingency. Canada's recent demonstration of its inability to meet its NATO mobility commitments and the rapid decline of NATO-flag fleets offer further proof of the need to maintain, strengthen and expand U.S. maritime promotional policies in support of the free world.
The example of the Falkland Islands war has been stood on its head. Britain does not practice cabotage in its domestic trades. If it did so, the British military may not have suffered from an inadequate supply of sea-lift.
Legitimate national security requirements are, and always have been, justification to exempt essential industries from coverage of trade agreements, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade included. Providing access to either nation's cabotage trades under the free trade agreement would have triggered most favored nation clauses within U.S. and Canadian treaties with third nations.
Perhaps Ms. Brooks should have checked with the Canadian-flag port community in Halifax to gauge its views on opening Canadian cabotage trades to the various nations of the British Commonwealth. In doing so, she might have developed a different perspective on the issue. If she truly believes that cabotage is merely a device to protect otherwise inefficient operators, perhaps she should focus on developments in Canadian domestic maritime policy.
James L. Henry, President
Transportation Institute, Camp Springs, Md.
Firms Widely Oppose