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Hard to Draw the Line

July 28, 1985

President Reagan opened a can of worms that could prove to be very troublesome when he instituted quotas on the import of Japanese cars in 1981 to help the auto industry out of economic difficulties. Although he recently canceled this form of artificial protection for American-built cars, the aftereffects are beginning to be felt.

Aside from the fact that during the four-year period quotas were in effect car buyers had to shell out more than $15 billion in added costs for new cars, more and more companies are calling for quotas as a means of economic aid during difficult times.

The latest plea for such economic assistance comes from the shoe industry "Shoe Quotas a Costly Idea to Save Jobs," June 17). Earlier, a Times story told of the nation's independent refiners banding together to plead for government restraints on the import of gasoline and other products in what they see as a struggle for survival.

Another Times report described the economic problems of the shrimp industry in Georgia. It declared that foreign competition, among other reasons, has driven some shrimpers to compare themselves to auto workers seeking federal protection from the production of other countries.

By approving the auto quota programs, the President has unwisely painted himself into a corner, and as a result it has now become very difficult for him to disregard the calls for such restraints from the shoe industry, refiners nationwide and some shrimpers in Georgia.

If the President heeds their pleas, the consumers will feel it again in the pocketbook because the price of some gas will go up at the pumps, the cost of Georgia shrimps will rise and the price of shoes will escalate. It appears that once again consumers stand a good chance to come out on the short end.

JESSE LEVINE

Van Nuys

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