219. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Wool Textiles
- Mr. Ugo Morabito, Commercial Minister, Italian Embassy
- Mr. Jerome Jacobson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs, Department of State
- Mr. Hugh W. Wolff, Assistant Chief, Fibers and Textiles Division, Office of International Resources
Mr. Morabito said he had received confirmation from his Government that both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Trade were opposed to an international agreement on wool textiles similar to the Long-Term Cotton Textile Arrangement. He added that he thought the worst was over so far as the United States industry was concerned. Exports of wool textiles from Italy to the United States had fallen [Page 591] off sharply. The down-turn was particularly evident in fabrics, exports of which in 1964 would perhaps be as low as one-third last year.
Mr. Jacobson asked about the position of the Italian industry concerning an international agreement. Mr. Morabito replied that the fabric industry favored an agreement but the knit outerwear industry was opposed. The former were worried about competition from the Japanese, a concern which was not felt by the outerwear people.
In response to a question about the attitude of the EEC countries, Mr. Morabito said that he believed Italy was the only member country seriously interested in exporting wool textiles to the United States. The other governments recognized the primacy of Italy’s interest and would go along with her in order to be helpful. Mr. Jacobson asked about the position of the EEC countries on a possible reduction of tariffs on wool textiles in the Kennedy round. Mr. Morabito thought that France was the key country in this respect. The French textile industry was politically powerful and would probably oppose any meaningful reduction.
Mr. Jacobson then turned to a summary of United States wool textile imports for the first three months of 1964. Although this indicated a reduction of 50% in fabric imports from Italy, these figures were somewhat misleading. Over-all imports were almost the same as last year except for the fact that there had been an abnormally large amount of trade during the first quarter of 1963 in a single type of goods (category 126, laces and articles of lace, etc.). Mr. Morabito said that the Italian fabric industry was seriously concerned over its loss of a large portion of the United States market in recent months. The difficulty in the industry was to some extent a reflection of the unsettled political and economic conditions in Italy at this time and recent large wage increases, and he could not predict when the situation would improve. Mr. Morabito said that on his return from his short trip to Canada he hoped to be able to provide more specific information concerning Italy’s anticipated exports of wool textiles to the United States.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, INCO–WOOL 17 US–IT. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Hugh W. Wolff and approved in E on June 2.↩