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U.S. Signs Textile Pact; Critics Call It 'Cave-In'

August 01, 1986|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The United States renewed a worldwide fiber agreement today to provide "the maximum possible protection for American textile workers," but critics called it an Administration "cave-in" to foreign pressure.

One angry Republican textile-state senator promptly called for the Senate to override President Reagan's veto of a tough protectionist trade bill covering textiles.

U.S. Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter announced at the White House that the overall agreement with more than 50 trading partners came early today in Geneva and closes most loopholes in the previous pact that allowed Asian producers to export clothes made of fibers not subject to duties.

"This agreement is worth a lot of money" to U.S. textile producers, Yeutter said, without providing a figure.

The Multifiber Arrangement, known as MFA, is an umbrella agreement setting no numerical limits. It provides the framework for negotiating separate deals between individual countries.

Accord Called 'Terrible'

Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) denounced the accord as "terrible." He said he will now support overriding Reagan's veto last year of a bill that would sharply curtail textile imports.

"We were hoping this arrangement we were going to work out over there would bring some relief. Instead of that, I'm informed that our negotiators caved in," Thurmond said.

John N. Gregg, chairman of the Fiber, Fabric and Apparel Coalition for Trade, called the MFA renewal "an atrocity afflicted on the textile and apparel industry."

"What our trade negotiators have done is a betrayal of the American public and the U.S. industry they were to represent. It's bad enough that our trade representatives failed so poorly, but when they attempt to disguise their failure as a success, it's a shameful deceit of the American public," Gregg said.

"This agreement in Geneva is a catastrophe for the U.S. textile and apparel industry. America's textile and apparel employees will now see a mass exportation of U.S. jobs overseas."

Fiber Loopholes Closed

Yeutter said the pact closes loopholes for new fibers not previously covered, allows the United States to impose unilateral restraints for two years in the case of import surges and contains anti-fraud provisions.

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