President Reagan on Friday lifted strict quotas on many imported goods containing small amounts of sugar, with an admission that earlier rules designed to protect domestic sugar producers had unintended effects.
The action should free tons of speciality foods, from Korean ramen noodles to British pickled onions, that have been forced into government warehouses under restrictive quotas imposed by presidential order Jan. 28.
In a proclamation, the President said the consequences of the January rule were "unanticipated" and have worked "severe hardship on importers and users of a number of articles containing relatively small amounts of sugar."
"The secretary of agriculture has advised me that, due to unexpected circumstances, it is appropriate to modify those import quotas . . . to permit the entry of certain articles currently excluded by those quotas," Reagan said.
The lifting of quotas is effective immediately and will remain in force unless an investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission demonstrates that other action is required.
The January order was imposed to stop imports of bulk products containing large amounts of sugar that could be extracted and resold on the American market. Protective quotas were necessary, Agriculture Department officials and sugar industry executives argued, because of the disparity between domestic and world sugar prices.
The current world price is 2.6 cents per pound and falling; the domestic price, artificially maintained by the U.S. government, is 21.1 cents.
Freed from the quotas on Friday were retail and bulk products containing less than 10% sugar, cake decorations and coconut derivatives containing less than 65% sugar and minced seafood preparations containing less than 20% sugar.
The action should solve the problem, said John Healy, president of British Imports in Long Beach.