209. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Johnson to President Johnson1


  • Wool Textiles: Your Meeting March 20 with Apparel Union Representatives


The apparel union representatives may raise with you the question of wool textile imports. They may ask for a renewal effort by the Administration to negotiate an international wool textile agreement similar to the agreement in effect for cotton textiles. They may refer to President Kennedy’s seven-point program of May 1961 which included a directive to the Department of State to negotiate an international textile agreement and they may point out that this has not been fulfilled with regard to wool textiles.2 They may also make the point that wool textile imports have risen to about 20 percent of domestic consumption in 1963, and that this is having an adverse effect on the producers of various wool products, including apparel.

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It is suggested that you comment along the following lines:

Vigorous efforts have been made to secure the cooperation of Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. They have not been successful to date. The Department has made every effort over the last year and a half to secure the cooperation of these countries, but to date they have not been willing to negotiate a wool textile agreement. As recently as March 17 the British Embassy gave us a negative response upon instructions from London.
The Administration is aware of the seriousness of the import problem. Secretary Rusk has told Congressional leaders that we will make another all-out effort to secure the cooperation of the major exporting countries. At a meeting with fourteen members of Congress led by Senator Pastore on March 18, the Secretary informed the Congressional group to this effect.3 Under Secretary Ball plans, in connection with his trip to Europe next week, to canvass the situation, including, if necessary, a stopover in London to discuss the matter with the President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Heath.
A wool textile agreement is much more difficult to secure than was the case with cotton textiles. Most of the countries exporting cotton textiles to us are less-developed countries; the cotton textile agreement we negotiated secured for them increased access to the restricted markets of Europe. On the other hand, the major suppliers of wool textiles (Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom) are all industrialized countries; there is no leverage here similar to that in the case of cotton textiles.

U. Alexis Johnson 4
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, INCO–WOOL US. No classification marking. Drafted by Stanley Nehmer (E/OR) on March 20 and cleared by Trezise (E) and Joseph A. Greenwald (E/OT). Attached to the source text is a March 20 transmittal memorandum from Benjamin H. Read (S/S) to Buddy.
  2. For text of President Kennedy’s seven-point program to assist the U.S. textile industry, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pp. 345–346.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 206.
  4. Printed from a copy that indicates Johnson signed the original.