Trade Bill Article
Deserves a RerunUntil I read "Passing Trade Bill Makes Sense," the OPED article by Harry Freeman, executive vice president with American Express Co., I was beginning to think that no one inside or outside of the Washington Beltway had ever really studied this legislation. I would suggest you rerun this article on the front page of your next issue in bold print and send a free copy to each member of the Senate.
The Trade and International Economic Policy Reform Act (H.R. 4800) is the culmination of some five or six House committees working in a bipartisan manner to review and seek solutions to a wide range of comprehensive trade problems. The results was a 458-page complex document that gained the support of 236 Democrats and 59 Republicans in the House and certainly deserves the serious consideration of the Senate Finance Committee and the entire Senate.
I could not agree with Mr. Freeman more when he states that, "Criticism of the trade bill has focused on provisions that would, under certain arbitrary circumstances, require rather than allow the president to take action against countries that discriminate against U.S. imports." We all know that Mr. Freeman is referring to the section of the bill on trade deficit reduction. This is what the reporters, and media persons saw and they read no more. Their typewriters began to click and the first word types was ''Protectionist."
If they had read just a little bit more, they would have learned what Mr. Freeman learned, that these provisions (Trade Deficit Reduction) also specify a range of circumstances under which the president can forgo such action, such as determining that such response is not in the national economic interest, which allows for considerable presidential discretion. The president can also waive the taking of any action if the trade surplus country is willing to sit down and develop a plan of action for otherwise achieving the fundamental purposes of this section.
For the first time in 20 years, U.S. agriculture has run a trade deficit for three consecutive months and the U.S. merchandise trade deficit rose to $83.9 billion for the first six months of 1986, an annual deficit of $167.9 billion. This is an annual increase over 1985 of $19.4 billion.
I have to ask myself if the trade deficit for 1986 was at the level of 1980, would trade be an issue before the Congress? My answer is no. If that is accurate, then why legislate a trade bill and not address the problem of trade deficit reduction among other things?
Eugene L. Casraiss, Jr. Legislative Representative International Union, United Automobile Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Washington
On 'Guns of October'
I found your "Guns of October editorial (JofC Oct. 15) to be a thoughtful analysis ofMr. Gorbachev's motives in seeking an arms control pact. The parallel you cite with Japanese negotiations on the very eve of World War II might well be on target.
But I am reminded by the editorial's title (an obvious reference to "The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman's classic work on the outbreak of World War I) of a perhaps more relevant historical parallel. The unsuccessful Hague
disarmament conference of 1899 and 1907 were initiated by Czar Nicholas II, who recognized that Russia's backward economy would not allow for participation in an arms race. The Western powers, however, confident of their technological prowess, would agree to nothing that limited their right to arm. The result, of course, seven years after the second Hague peace conference, was both World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution.
Allan B. Campbell Bordentown, N.J.
US-Flag Merchant Ships
Vital to US Interests
Your Oct. 6 editorial "Re-flag U.S.-Owned Ships?" causes me great concern:
The Propeller Club of the United States was created in New York in the early 1920s and nationalized later that decade. Its purpose was and remains to build and maintain a strong U.S.-flag merchant marine. Through the ensuing decades it was not always in vogue to have such a purpose (our merchant marine has been "in irons" many times). All through that time no one thought of giving up the ships of the U.S.-flag merchant marine, let alone dare say so out loud.
Now, the "closeteers" are out in the open wanting, thinking, talking about changing course at a time when a steady course has never been needed more. If we in the club and industry abandon the cause then who will steady our course? What legacy are we leaving?
Your stated "issue of critical importance" is not what decision the Propeller Club has to make about de-emphasizing the flag but what to do about re-vitalizing same, i.e., new concepts and programs (which you have refused to print). The kind of programs and initiatives generated by Rep. Walter B. Jones, D-N.C., chairman of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, demand our collective undying support. Others in Congress are becoming aware of our plight through lobbying and the creation of the Maritime Caucus while you print retreat.
Your statements regarding the world standing of both the U.S.-owned and U.S.-flag fleets shows that an update is needed.
According to Marad '85, the privately owned U.S.-flag fleet ranked 12th in the world while the U.S.S.R. merchant fleet ranked second. DOT/Marad's ''Foreign Flag Merchant Ship Owned by U.S. Parent Companies" (7/1/84) notes that there are 525 U.S.-owned foreign-flag ships in existence. Together both fleets equal 44 percent of the U.S.S.R.-flag fleet. A very far cry from your claim of the "largest and most powerful merchant marine this planet has ever known." Even if it were true, the foreign seamen's union (ITF) recently passed a resolution, over only the U.S. delegates objection, forcing owners to repatriate seamen rather than send them into a war zone. Do you want to depend on this?
There should be no debate and no question as to the morality or legality of the methods we use to defend our country. It should be ironclad and the U.S. Navy should be supported in their effort to defend us. The only way I know how is to build and maintain a strong U.S.-flag merchant marine.
Jerome E. Joseph President Port of N.Y. Propeller Club