US COMPANIES BUSY
IN CZECHOSLOVAKIAYour article on U.S. investment in Czechoslovakia suggests that American business has ignored Czechoslovakia, but the reality is otherwise ("Czechoslovakia Yet to See Wave of U.S. Investment," Feb. 7, Page 5A). More than 250 American corporations have offices or representatives in Czechoslovakia, and they are making deals. Only a week ago, an American Chamber of Commerce was established here.
Statistics can be misleading. The article relies on the $1.6 million total American investment figure provided by the Czechoslovak Ministry of the Economy. Without engaging in a debate over the exact total, consider that Procter & Gamble last year acquired a detergent factory for $20 million and will invest an additional $24 million in the company over a two-year period. Ralston Energy Systems (Eveready) is spending $26 million on a battery factory. Whirlpool is putting $13.8 million into a washing machine company. Bell Atlantic and U.S. West are jointly spending $80 million over a 10-year period on a cellular phone system. The list goes on.
Far from ignoring Czechoslovakia, American companies are actively seeking business here. The American Embassy's Foreign Commercial Service office is in contact with more than 100 U.S. companies every week, and has been for over a year.
At least 30 U.S. companies have deals pending which, if successful, would inject more than $5 billion into the Czechoslovak economy over the next decade. One of these, Dow Chemical, is about to make an investment of $100 million up front plus $250 million over the next 10 years. More companies are coming up with proposals every week.
Germany is the largest foreign investor, but in every major negotiation, American companies have gone head-to-head with the Germans. Competitive offers by major U.S. corporations, for example, were passed over in favor of Volkswagen and Siemens. Czechoslovaks may complain about the high percentage of German investment, but they have had a choice.
President Bush stated a fact when he told Czechoslovakia, "America will stand with you." The article says that, contrary to the president's promise, Czechs and Slovaks are still waiting for U.S. business partners to arrive. In fact, they have arrived and will continue to arrive.
Thomas N. Hull
Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Embassy Prague
MEXICO A MAJOR US
In your Feb. 7 article "Rep. Pease Says Mexican Arrest Raises Trade Issue," (Page 3A), Rep. Donald J. Pease said that Mexicans can hardly buy American goods if they stay at subsistence levels.
If, while "living at subsistence levels," Mexico could become the third largest buyer of American products (after Canada and Japan), import more American goods than Great Britain, Germany or France, and import more from the United States than Taiwan, Korea and Singapore combined, then just imagine how Mexico could help the U.S. economy recover when our own economy improves, and with it the standard of living of Mexicans.
Maybe Rep. Pease is not well informed about trade relations between Mexico and the United States.
Consul General of Mexico
FOR JOBLESS WORKERS
The opinion article by Rep. Donald Pease contrasting the condition of the jobless American worker with that of his German counterpart is accurate and sobering ("Training Dislocated Workers," Jan. 24, Page 4A).
Even the miserly, and brief, "unemployment insurance" - strange terminology, that - dispensed to the "outplaced" American worker is subject to income tax.
The present German labor policy is the continuation and extension of the social legislation that since the time of Bismarck has been the most enlightened in the world.
By fortuitous coincidence, the excellent contribution on illusory, or misleading, trade surpluses, by Professor Stephen D. Cohen, complements Mr. Pease's piece admirably.
Toms River, N.J.
KUDOS FOR COLORFUL
I started reading the Journal of Commerce back in 1976 when I was hired away
from the Penn Central to work at the National Industrial Transportation League. The league, of course, relied on your newspaper and Traffic World to keep up with developments in the transportation industry.
Over the last 16 years, working in a number of transportation jobs, I have been a faithful reader and supporter of your newspaper.
What has been especially enjoyable over the years is the way the Journal has responded to changing times, adapting to the evolving needs of its readership.
Your latest changes, going to color, offset production, along with your improved graphics, are very appealing.
Your paper has always presented its readers with a wealth of timely, useful information. Now, reading it daily is even more enjoyable.
John A. McQuaid
Intermodal Association of North America