CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE
April 27, 1961
ORDERLY MARKETING ACT OF 1961
Mr. MUSKIE. Mr. President, I introduce, for appropriate reference a bill to provide for adjusting conditions of competition between certain domestic industries and foreign industries with respect to the level of wages and the working conditions in the production of articles imported into the United States. I have entitled this bill the "Orderly Marketing Act of 1961." I ask unanimous consent to have the bill printed in the RECORD.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The bill will be received and appropriately referred; and, without objection. The bill will be printed in the RECORD.
The bill (S. 1735) to Provide for adjusting conditions of competition between certain domestic industries and foreign industries with respect to the level of wages and the working conditions in the production of articles imported into the United States, introduced by Mr. MUSKIE, was received, read twice by its title, referred to the Committee on Finance, and ordered to be Printed in the RECORD.
Mr. MUSKIE. Mr. President, I represent a State which has a keen appreciation for the value of world trade. Our coast was settled by traders, catching fish and cutting lumber for shipment to Europe. Many of our towns were founded on trade, and for many years Maine-built and Maine-sailed ships were prominent on the seven seas. Our Yankee traders were renowned for their sailing skill and their competitive prowess.
But my State also knows the hardship of sudden shifts in trade brought about by unfair competitive advantages. In such industries as textiles, wood products, and shoes, low wages in overseas countries have resulted in a flood of imports at prices below the point of reasonable competition. On March 21, we held a lengthy discussion on the floor of the Senate on the problems confronting the textile industry, as a result of the rapid expansion of textile imports. A similar story could be told of many other industries.
We cannot stand idly by and watch these industries forced to the wall by unfair competition. None of us, I am sure, would propose that competition between domestic and foreign manufacturers be eliminated completely. That would be a repudiation of our economic system just as surely as a proposal to remove competition within the United States would be a repudiation of that system. But it is my conviction that all of us wish to avoid, wherever possible, unfair competitive advantages, particularly where those advantages are gained with low wages and poor working conditions.
The legislation which I have introduced today would help to insure more equitable competitive conditions between domestic and foreign manufacturers. It would encourage genuine competition by removing unnecessary and burdensome handicaps.
The principle on which world trade arguments rest is that of comparative advantage. In the absence of governmental interference, countries export those goods in which they are relatively most efficient and import those goods which they cannot produce except at costs higher than those abroad. In the United States, particularly prior to World War II, we enjoyed an advantage in world trade because of our highly industrialized economy. Our wages were generally higher than those paid in other countries, but our workers had the advantage of greater efficiency which tended to equalize wage costs. Since World War II, however, there has been a great increase in the efficiency of plant and machinery in such countries as Japan. This increase in efficiency has not been accompanied by an increase of wages to a level comparable to those paid in the United States. The result is that our workers must compete with workers in another country who receive much lower wages while producing almost, if not equally, as efficiently.
In recent years there has been a tendency for positions on trade policy to become frozen. Those who support free trade have argued on an all-or-nothing basis. Protectionists have taken a similarly rigid position. I submit that neither extreme will meet the interests of this Nation, or of the free world. The economies of nations are interrelated and interdependent. Trade between nations can no longer be left to chance. We must plan our trade policies. This, to me, is the great virtue of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which we ratified on March 16.
The bill which I have introduced today, while affording protection to our domestic industries, carries out the spirit of the Treaty for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Article I of that treaty states that one of the aims of the OECD shall be to promote policies designed to contribute to the expansion of world trade on a multilateral, nondiscriminatory basis in accordance with international obligations. The objective of my bill is to expand trade between the United States and other countries in an orderly fashion. My bill would prevent sudden and drastic changes in trade patterns, which can only work to the disadvantage of domestic and foreign industries.
Mr. President, the Orderly Marketing Act of 1961 is a simple bill. It would provide for an investigation by the Tariff Commission when it has been alleged that articles produced under substandard wage and working conditions in foreign countries are being imported into the United States with adverse consequences for domestic production and domestic workers. If the investigation of the Tariff Commission sustained such allegations, the Commission would recommend to the President that he instruct the Secretary of State to negotiate with the foreign countries involved marketing agreements which would allow the exporting countries to share in the growth of our domestic market.
The share of an individual country in our market would be based on its average share of the market during the 3 years preceding the conclusion of the marketing agreement. In each subsequent year the total amount of the product or products involved would be revised to reflect changes in the domestic market.
At any time after 3 years of operation under the marketing agreement, the Tariff commission could recommend a change in the share of the domestic market to be enjoyed by the foreign
country involved. After 3 years, the commission could also recommend cancellation of the marketing agreement if the conditions described in the original investigation no longer applied or were likely to apply.
The key to this proposal is its recognition of the opportunity of other manufacturers, foreign as well as domestic, to compete in our market on roughly equal terms. It would protect our own businesses from unfair competition, open the door for orderly competition from abroad, and exercise minimum interference with a free market.
We cannot turn the clock back to the Smoot-Hawley tariff, unless we are willing to say that the American economic system cannot compete under any circumstances. But this does not mean that we should turn our back on the critical trade problems which confront our own businessmen, particularly in the small-business segment of our economy.
I believe my bill offers a practical, simple, and reasonable approach to the import problem. It recognizes the needs of our domestic manufacturers and it accepts our responsibilities to help provide an orderly international market. It is my hope that this legislation will receive favorable attention and support from my colleagues.
Therefore, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that this bill remain at the desk through Monday, May 8, to provide other Senators an opportunity to join in cosponsoring this legislation.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection the bill will lie on the desk as requested by the Senator from Maine