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Anaheim Convention : Hart Warns Asian Indians of Protectionism in Trade

August 31, 1986|MARK LANDSBAUM | Times Staff Writer

Appearing before a national convention of Asian Indians in Anaheim on Saturday, Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) called for cooperative trade policies among nations rather than "the wave of protectionism that's sweeping country after country."

Hart, considered by some to be the front-runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, has proposed legislation that he says will improve American productivity and make U.S. products more competitive overseas.

"But our trading partners are going to have to be fair with us," he said, adding that the United States must impose sanctions against nations engaging in unfair trade practices.

"We must strengthen national and international trade laws and ensure that they are enforced," he said.

Decline in Domestic Sales

On Friday, the Commerce Department estimated that the U.S. trade deficit soared to a record $18 billion in July. The deficit diverts money that otherwise would be spent on U.S. products, notably manufactured goods. The result is a decline in domestic sales, profits and employment. "The United States trade deficit has been larger than the gross national product of India for the past several years," Hart said.

Hart spoke before an audience of about 500 at the Fourth National Biennial Convention of Asian Indians in America. He was warmly received, and at the conclusion of his presentation was given a standing ovation.

Along with Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Hart is considered to be among the favorites for the Democratic Party nomination for president.

Convention organizers said that 50% to 60% of the about 600,000 Asian Indians in the United States are U.S. citizens. Asian Indians' median family income, based on U.S. Census estimates, is $25,500--higher than any other ethnic group except Japanese-Americans, organizers said.

2,000 to Attend

About 2,000 people are expected to attend the convention, held at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel and sponsored by the National Federation of Asian Indian Organizations in America. The convention's theme is "Assimilation Into the American Mainstream While Maintaining Ethnic Heritage."

N. D. Tiwari, India Minister of Industries, who also spoke at the three-day conference's opening ceremonies, said India's improving economy has been marked by changes in its exporting patterns.

India had been exporting mostly raw materials, Tiwari said, but increasingly has been exporting capital goods, machine tools and "other engineering products of high quality."

The United States, Tiwari and Hart agreed, has been one of the largest investors in the Indian economy.

Tiwari declined to comment on whether the international trade policies proposed by Hart would be more favorably received by his government than those of the Reagan Administration.

"It is not for me to make comments on internal politics of political parties in the United States," he said.

Following his speech, Hart was whisked away by aides to a flight that will begin a tour of European cities.

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