Trade legislation starting to move through the House of Representatives has hit double-barreled criticism. United States Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter in a letter to Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D) of Illinois, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has put into writing the administration's objections to the bill, because some provisions do not meet White House criteria.
At the same time, the head of the European Community delegation has sent Mr. Rostenkowski a letter, for a different reason.
The bill would try to make American exports and industries more competitive through a combination of trade assistance programs, worker retraining programs, and tougher trade laws.
The administration opposes provisions that deal with worker rights; require the US to retaliate against countries that do not meet certain labor criteria; mandate exchange-rate negotiations; adjust trade assistance; single out specific industries such as telecommunications; and allow US companies to get triple damages for winning antidumping lawsuits.
Sir Roy Denman, head of the EC delegation, sent a five-page letter suggesting that the US would violate the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade if the legislation, particularly the section mandating retaliatory action, were to become law.
``The US would be on a collision course with its major trading partners,'' he wrote.
Mr. Yeutter's letter, a spokesman says, is not a toughening of the White House position. Some congressmen have complained about the White House letter.
Gary Holmes, a spokesman for Yeutter, says, ``We have said all along we are opposed to some areas. Now we are putting it on paper so the committee understands precisely where we stand.''
Mr. Holmes adds that the letter holds no promise of a presidential veto at this time. ``It's too early in the process to talk about vetoing,'' he says.
One area the administration is concerned about is foreign nations mimicking tough US laws. Thursday the EC gave the US a taste of such actions. The EC, in its first action, used a new statute modeled after the 301 trade law, which allows the US to retaliate if its producers are damaged by an unfair trade practice. The EC brought the suit against aramid fibers produced by E.I. duPont, claiming the US does not allow such fibers into the US.