International trade

After closely following the articles on international trade over the past few months, Earl Foell's story ``Lesson No. 4, when spurring entrepreneurs -- don't lapse into protectionism,'' May 21, is a welcome, objective look at protectionism. The lack of interest by the Reagan administration and the protectionist policies in the major trading nations seems to indicate no relief in sight. However, he provides excellent reasons for removing these trade barriers; ones that will benefit each nation. It will not be easy, but then nothing valuable and productive is easy. More positive attitudes like Mr. Foell's would put us much farther down the path to economic prosperity than all the protectionist rhetoric ever will. The US needs to return to a free-trade position, not only for its own economic well-being, but as an example to the rest of the world. It is time that all nations recognize that free trade is the best way to grow economically. Grechen F. Schreiber Federal Way, Wash.

I have read with interest the editorial ``Trade plus'' (May 21). No doubt, ``the trade talks are an important symbol of an effort under way to improve political ties between the two nations'' -- the USSR and the US. However, in an exclusive interview with the Novosti Press Agency in Moscow, Malcolm Baldrige said that no changes in US legislation on trade with the Soviet Union were expected. As before, the US will rule out trade in everything that it lists as ``strategic commodities'' and ``high technology.''

Washington is free to call any goods strategic or nonstrategic. You could even use the term ``semi- strategic'' here. What the Soviet side needs is clarity. No matter how complicated our relations may be, we must know for sure what we can and what we cannot buy.

Another basic point is the sanctity of a contract. If a contract is signed, it must be honored no matter what. Try to imagine yourself in the position of a Soviet foreign trade official who signs a contract with an American firm. Indeed, why should he sign a contract when he can't be sure that it will not be violated or annulled?

Because of the strained situation in Soviet-American trade in recent years, the Soviet Union buys analogues for American goods in West European countries and Japan. Currently the Soviet Union is working out plans for economic and social development for 1986-90, which call for the implementation of many large projects with the participation of foreign partners. If the US administration cannot give guarantees that American firms will follow through with the contracts that they are interested in, the Soviet side will have to look for other partners. If this happens, the opportunity to make substantial progress in Soviet-American trade will be put back another five years. Alexander Malyshkin Novosti Press Agency Washington

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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