WASHINGTON — Angry Administration officials today accused France of economic "blackmail" by blocking a crucial reform of the rules for international trade that could boost sales of a wide variety of U.S.-made products.
David Mulford, assistant Treasury secretary for international affairs, bluntly criticized France for deferring discussions on closing a major loophole in international trade rules. He warned that Congress is already building a $1-billion "war chest" with which to outbid competitors.
The loophole in trade law allows countries to mix large subsidies with export financing, to the further disadvantage of American-made machine tools, steel, telecommunications products, mass transit equipment and many other products already made less competitive by the strong dollar.
A Major Issue
Mulford and other officials at a news conference--called with only 30 minutes notice--made it clear that the Administration wants to make the French position a major international issue ahead of the economic summit in Bonn this spring and an earlier meeting of trade ministers of 22 industrialized countries.