225. Memorandum From the Department of Commerce and the Department of State to President Johnson1

The President’s Cabinet Textile Advisory Committee met on June 16 to consider a course of action on the wool textile import problem. These are the principal points made at the meeting:

Commitments to leaders of the industry and Congress have been repeatedly made by the Administration to contain the rate of wool textile imports.
An international agreement appears to be the only feasible means to implement this commitment.
The opposition of governments of the principal exporting countries to an agreement has been strong and consistent.
Upon determining this opposition last year, the Administration suggested to our industry that it attempt to change the international climate by talking with its counterparts abroad, after which the Administration would pursue the matter again.
The industry has reported success with large segments of the European wool textile industries, who consider the time appropriate for a new effort. However, without solicitation the governments of the U.K., Japan, and Italy have informed us that they have not changed their opposition to an agreement.
The Secretary of State sent Wilson Wyatt and Warren Christopher abroad last month to determine the attitudes of the governments concerned. After talks with the GATT secretariat, whose opinion was that an agreement was “completely non-negotiable” and who was proposing new Article XIX procedures for dealing with disruptive imports, the mission returned to Washington to report. They felt that any approach to other governments while the Article XIX proposal, which was in its early formative stages, was under consideration might preempt the decision of our government before full study could be given to it in Washington.
The State Department and the Trade Negotiator’s Office expressed the view that the prospects for an international wool textile agreement are remote at this time and that for the U.S. to press its desire for such an agreement would seriously interfere with the attainment of our objectives in the Kennedy Round and would interfere with consideration of the Article XIX proposal for dealing with disruptive imports, including wool textiles.
The Departments of Commerce, Labor, Agriculture, and Treas-ury thought that because Wyatt and Christopher did not explore the possibility of an agreement with other governments, the Administration had not yet fulfilled its agreement with leaders of the industry and Congress to pursue the matter. In addition they thought the Article XIX proposal inappropriate for wool textiles. Also they believed that a way could be found to carry on explorations of an international wool textile agreement with the countries concerned with a minimum interference to the Kennedy Round negotiations or to the Article XIX proposal and that these explorations must take place promptly to fulfill the Administration’s commitment to the leaders of the industry and Congress. The Departments of Commerce, Labor, and Agriculture thought that the U.S. might improve its position in the Kennedy Round and on the Article XIX proposal by discussions of the wool textile problem.
The Committee decided to refer to the President the decision on whether discussions on wool textiles with other countries should take place at this time.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 40, Secretary of Commerce Files: FRC 69 A 6828, Textiles, Wool Advisory Committee. Limited Official Use. Drafted by James S. Love (Commerce), assisted by Stanley Nehmer. (Memorandum from Love to Hodges, June 17; ibid.) Love referred it to Myer Feldman, the President’s Deputy Special Counsel, the same day, along with a letter indicating that he was still awaiting Department of State clearance. (Letter from Love to Feldman, June 17; ibid.)