Mandate for fair trade

In the Nov. 15 editorial ``Trade curbs,'' concern was expressed over foreign retaliation to the Textile and Apparel Trade Enforcement Act passed by the House and Senate. We appreciate this concern, but would like to explain why it is misplaced. There is no linkage between textile and apparel imports and US farm exports, which have been cited as likely targets for retaliation. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and China, suppliers of about half of US textile and apparel imports, buy only about one-tenth of American agricultural exports.

The fact is that while textile and apparel imports have been increasing, farm exports have been falling in each of the last five years. International market conditions and exchange rates drive the farm economy.

Because raw cotton imports into the US are prohibited, American textile manufacturers have to buy US cotton for as much as 50 percent more than our foreign competitors. At the same time, American cotton growers are losing the sale of 3 million bales of cotton every year because imported textiles and apparel do not contain US grown cotton. We support a strong domestic cotton industry which can provide the qualities and grades of cotton our industry requires. Let's not fool ourselves that free trade is th e answer to our problem.

The textile and apparel legislation provides for orderly trade and allows American manufacturers to compete fairly with their foreign competitors. The bill means that 2 million Americans in this basic industry will have jobs, and it was soundly approved by the House and Senate. The mandate for fair trade should not be ignored by the President. Ellison McKissick, Pres. American Textile Washington Manufacturers Inst.

Soviet visitors have great difficulty understanding the United States [``Conditioned reflexes,'' Nov. 21]. But that is no reason to question reciprocal exchanges. For every Soviet who comes here under reciprocal cultural and scientific exchanges, an American goes to the Soviet Union. And Americans have just as great a need to learn about the Soviet Union as Soviets need to learn about us. Exchanges will not have a magic effect, but the information gap exists on both sides. To ignore it would not be in our interest. Yale Richmond Alexandria, Va.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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