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Reagan Doubts Sanction Effect on South Africa

October 02, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan told Congress today that the impact of economic sanctions against South Africa has been "more negative than positive" and said he opposes additional punitive measures of this sort.

In a report to House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Reagan maintained that beyond sending "a clear message to the ruling white community" of America's revulsion over Pretoria's system of apartheid, the sanctions actually had the effect of harming South Africa's blacks.

Yet Reagan stopped short of seeking to reverse economic sanctions that have taken hold in the wake of the legislation that Congress passed over his veto last year, such as the gradual U.S. disinvestment from South Africa.

In his report, which Reagan was required to submit under provisions of the law Congress passed, the President said "significant progress has not been made toward ending the system of apartheid and establishing a non-racial democracy in South Africa in the 12-month period since the enactment of the act."

"My conclusion is that the imposition of additional economic sanctions at this time would not be helpful in the achievement of the objectives which Congress, the American people and I share," he said. "While the measures imposed by the 1986 act have registered an important message to the white South African community, and have contributed to our efforts to broaden our contacts with black opposition groups, the impact has been more negative than positive."

Reagan said in the report that "I am particularly concerned by evidence that these measures have caused increasing unemployment for black South African workers, especially in such industries as sugar production and coal mining."

"This report shows that the sanctions have hurt blacks, and hurt them badly," White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater told reporters just before copies of the report were released. "There is clear evidence now . . . what happens under disinvestment."

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