Abstract

A comprehensive description of the multitude of trade actions presents difficult conceptual and expositional problems, in part because information on the actions of individual countries is not always available in a like degree of detail. In some countries, explicit laws and legislative procedures govern trade actions; in others, discretionary administrative actions may be taken without formal legislative approval. The nature of restrictive trade actions—in particular whether they are official restrictions formally approved by the governments concerned, informal arrangements among private and semiofficial bodies, or, even, internal official regulations having the same effect as formal restrictions—also affects the availability of public information. For these reasons, neither the length of the descriptions of the actions nor their number can be considered as indicative of the relative severity of the restrictive actions implemented or contemplated in a given sector or country.

A comprehensive description of the multitude of trade actions presents difficult conceptual and expositional problems, in part because information on the actions of individual countries is not always available in a like degree of detail. In some countries, explicit laws and legislative procedures govern trade actions; in others, discretionary administrative actions may be taken without formal legislative approval. The nature of restrictive trade actions—in particular whether they are official restrictions formally approved by the governments concerned, informal arrangements among private and semiofficial bodies, or, even, internal official regulations having the same effect as formal restrictions—also affects the availability of public information. For these reasons, neither the length of the descriptions of the actions nor their number can be considered as indicative of the relative severity of the restrictive actions implemented or contemplated in a given sector or country.

In addition to trade actions generally designed to give protection against imports (e.g., “escape clause” actions), this survey covers measures taken against imports that are considered to be dumped (antidumping duties) and measures against imports deemed to be subsidized (countervailing duties). As explained in the Introduction, antidumping and countervailing duties are considered a legitimate form of protective reaction. Therefore, they cannot be considered as protectionist in the strict sense of trade restrictions adopted to protect domestic industries against competitive imports. However, while the principles may be clear, there is considerable controversy as to what is and is not dumped, what constitutes a subsidy, and how the degree of dumping and subsidy should be determined. In a discussion of protectionism, therefore, an important question is whether antidumping or countervailing duties are being used to counteract dumped or subsidized exports, or whether they are disguised protectionism.

In times of depressed demand, as competition for a smaller volume of orders heightens, it is possible that in some instances exports may be made below cost or with elements of subsidy. It is, however, not possible to make a clearcut distinction between genuine and contrived uses of antidumping and countervailing actions.15 Usually, such actions are considered on a case-by-case basis and the decision is made unilaterally by the imposing country. Nevertheless, the growth in the use of these instruments in recent years may be taken as symptomatic of increased protectionist pressures: the launching of investigations of charges of dumping or subsidization are often the response of governments to what were initially requests for protective measures. Furthermore, there is evidence that in some instances a request by an industry for protective action—even where there is no specific complaint of dumped or subsidized imports—leads to an exploration of the possible use of antidumping or countervailing duties well before it is determined whether or not outright protection should be granted.

Trade Actions in Selected Sectors 16

In the course of reviewing trade actions taken in recent years, a tabulation, based on official sources, was made of the trade measures taken for various purposes by the major industrial nations. This section presents a summary of the trade actions taken by the major industrial countries in three key sectors—steel, textiles and clothing, and footwear. Shipbuilding is discussed in the following section, owing to the special nature of the structural problems in that sector.

Steel

In the past several decades, the world steel industry has been characterized by a rapid expansion of capacity, especially in Japan, the establishment in more recent years of steel plants aimed at import substitution or production for export in several developing countries, and sharp intercountry disparities between the rates of growth of domestic production and consumption.17 As a result, there have been important shifts in the pattern of international trade in steel. Globally, exports increased from about 13 per cent of production in 1955 to 22 per cent in 1975.18 Japanese steel production increased more than tenfold between 1955 and 1976 but Japan’s steel consumption increased only fivefold. In contrast, U.S. steel production increased by only 9 per cent over this 20-year period but consumption increased by one third, and the United States became the world’s largest importer of steel products. In the eec, production increased by more than 80 per cent and consumption by somewhat more than 60 per cent.

United States.

Pressures for protection of the U.S. steel industry have surfaced from time to time over the past two decades. In 1967, steel export associations in Japan and the European Coal and Steel Community (ecsc) submitted letters of agreement to the U.S. Department of State in which they undertook to limit “voluntarily” their exports to the United States of certain mill-fabricated products of steel, and these agreements were in effect during the period 1969–74. Under the agreements covering 1969–71 a growth rate for U.S. imports from Japan and the ecsc was set at 5 per cent a year in both cases, and under the agreements covering 1972–74 the rate was set at 2.5 per cent a year. In the latter period, exports by the United Kingdom, which had not been restrained previously and had risen following the implementation of the 1969–71 restraint agreements, were made subject to a specific ceiling. By 1973, when U.S. steel producers were operating at full capacity, imports declined and the ceilings under the 1972–74 agreements became non-binding. The agreements were therefore not renegotiated when they expired in 1974.

Following a sharp rise in Japanese exports in 1975, the United States negotiated an orderly marketing agreement with that country for three years beginning June 1976, establishing annual limits on the quantity of imports from Japan of five categories of specialty steel. These limits imply an annual rate of growth in the quantity of imports of between 1 and 8 per cent. Contemporaneously, a quota was imposed on imports of specialty steel from other countries.

Pressures for protection of the steel industry continued to mount, and on December 28, 1977 the United States announced a system of trigger prices with respect to steel mill products for the purpose of monitoring import prices and expediting investigations under the U.S. antidumping legislation. The trigger prices are based primarily on the information provided by the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry concerning the current cost of producing steel in Japan, which in this context is formally recognized to be the most efficient exporting country. These prices are to be established periodically and announced at least 60–90 days before they become applicable. The announcement by the U.S. Government19 states that the purpose of the trigger price system is to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to determine whether to initiate antidumping proceedings and to make a tentative determination with respect to sales made at less than “fair value” within a period substantially shorter than the six months provided for under existing legislation. The first list of trigger prices was published on February 22, 1978.

The most significant feature of the trigger price system appears to be that the initiative for determining that steel is being dumped in U.S. markets now passes from the private sector to the U.S. Government, although the provisions under U.S. antidumping legislation relating to complaints by the private sector are not affected by the new system. By speeding up the relevant domestic procedures in regard to steel, the system is expected to result in a more rapid resolution of presumed cases of dumping, thus reducing the uncertainties and cost of litigation to domestic producers. However, a new element of uncertainty may result from the establishment of the trigger prices themselves, the level and coverage of which are to be revised every three months in the light of new information on the cost of steel production in Japan and of changes in exchange rates.

An unknown consequence of the system at this stage is the reaction of domestic steel producers, who have traditionally been greatly concerned about their share of the U.S. market. A number of complaints of dumping had already been lodged with the U.S. authorities prior to the establishment of the new system, and it remains to be seen whether U.S. producers would now be prepared to drop existing complaints and/or refrain from introducing new ones.20

EEC.

Until 1976, attempts by the eec and its member states to deal with the problems facing the ecsc had been mainly through measures aimed at assisting steel firms in financial difficulties. The trade actions that were taken consisted of a few measures of import surveillance and several antidumping21 and safeguard actions. In 1972, the eec implemented one antidumping and safeguard action on imports of steel tubes from Spain. There were no other major trade actions in this sector until 1976, when an antidumping action was initiated against imports of steel nuts from the Republic of China. In 1977 six actions were initiated, including two import surveillance actions on household items of steel and enamel from Spain and on steel bolts from the Republic of China. In addition, antidumping actions were applied to steel reinforcing bars from South Africa, hematite pig iron from Brazil, and iron and steel tubes from Spain. Moreover, a safeguard action was taken against certain iron and steel products from all sources.

Notwithstanding these measures, the situation of the steel industry in the eec deteriorated considerably during 1977: production of raw steel was estimated at 128 million tons, some 5 per cent below the already depressed level of 1976 and 18 per cent below production in 1974; utilization of capacity ranged around 60 per cent for the eec as a whole; steel exports were estimated at 27 per cent below those in 1974; and imports rose by 67 per cent, signaling fierce price competition from external suppliers, such as Brazil, the Republic of China, and South Africa, some of which had entered the market only recently.

On December 28, 1977, the eec put into place a comprehensive system of minimum prices for hot-rolled wide strips, merchant bars, and concrete reinforcing bars. The system, which was to be in force until the end of 1978, fixed compulsory minimum prices applicable to transactions within the eec and to transactions in those countries of the European Free Trade Association (Austria, Finland, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden) with which the eec has concluded free-trade agreements for products of the ecsc. On January 1, 1978 an interim antidumping scheme, which defined antidumping duties as equivalent to the amount by which the prices of steel imports were lower than the minimum prices mentioned above, was put into operation for a period of up to three months. Under this scheme, the eec decided on January 24, 1978 to initiate antidumping actions and at the same time apply provisional antidumping duties for a three-month period on six categories of steel imports (galvanized sheets; hot-rolled sheets; hematite pig iron; cold-rolled sheets; coils; and wire rods). The countries affected by these measures were Bulgaria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Poland, and Spain. The amount of duty payable on each import transaction was determined on a case-by-case basis as the difference between the c.i.f. import price (including any import taxes) and the base price published by the eec.

The eec authorities announced their intention of operating the reinforced antidumping rules in the first instance only until the end of March 1978, by which time they expected to negotiate bilateral agreements with each of the principal steel exporters (Brazil, Japan, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, and several Eastern European countries) that would establish both the quantities and the prices of steel products imported into the eec.22

* * * * *

The foregoing review suggests that the U.S. and eec actions in the steel sector taken since 1976 do not constitute direct restrictions on steel imports, although the eec has announced its intention of negotiating such restrictions bilaterally with its principal suppliers. The immediate objective of the eec and U.S. actions was to limit price competition deemed to be unfair, and both systems defined minimum prices in terms of the costs of production in Japan. The systems tend to discriminate against other, smaller producers whose costs of production, at present or in the future, may be even lower than those of Japan, and in favor of producers whose costs are relatively higher and whose exports, even if dumped, would not trigger the new procedures as long as they have been sold at above the minimum prices. Thus, the overall effect of the systems may not be to discourage dumping by all suppliers equally, while over the longer run they may introduce an element of rigidity in the market shares of various foreign suppliers. In any event, the net effect of the systems will be to raise steel prices and help to sustain the market shares of domestic producers.

Textiles and Clothing

The textile and clothing sector has long been subject to internationally sanctioned trade restrictions. The first arrangement, the Short-Term Arrangement on Cotton Textiles, was concluded in 1961 at a meeting called by the gatt at the request of the United States. This arrangement was followed by the Long-Term Arrangement Regarding International Trade in Cotton Textiles, which was concluded in 1962 under gatt auspices. Upon the expiration of the Long-Term Arrangement in 1973, the Arrangement Regarding International Trade in Textiles (more commonly referred to as the Multifiber Arrangement or the MFA) entered into force on January 1, 1974 for a period of four years, also under gatt auspices. The products covered included, in addition to cotton textiles, man-made fibers and wool.23 At the end of 1977 the Multifiber Arrangement was extended for four years through 1981. Thus, international trade in textiles has been subject to internationally negotiated restrictions throughout the last 17 years, during which the scope of the restrictions—in terms both of product coverage and of the number of importing and exporting countries adhering to the arrangements—has expanded.

Views differ on the significance of these arrangements. The Long-Term Arrangement (1962–73) has been characterized as one of the important “stepping stones to the present crisis in international commercial policy.” 24 Others, however, view these arrangements as mechanisms that, given the prevailing circumstances, introduced a degree of orderliness into international trade in textiles, accommodated a rapid increase in the textile exports of developing countries, and pre-empted the institution of ad hoc, uncoordinated, and potentially more damaging trade restrictions.

United States.25

Concern about the vulnerability of the U.S. textile industry to import penetration has been voiced by producers since the 1950s. The rapid expansion of imports of cotton textiles from Japan led to the first voluntary export restraint agreement between the United States and Japan, the latter agreeing to limit exports of cotton textiles to the United States during the period 1957–61. While this agreement resulted in a decline in U.S. imports of cotton textiles in 1957 and 1958, concerns about import penetration mounted again the following year as new suppliers, notably Hong Kong, expanded their exports to the United States, and this led to efforts to conclude restraint arrangements on a multilateral basis. Since the end of the one-year Short-Term Arrangement on Cotton Textiles (1961/62), U.S. restrictions on textile imports have been in the form of bilateral agreements concluded within the framework of the multilateral Long-Term Arrangement (1962–73) and the Multifiber Arrangement (1974–77 and 1978–81).

As of October 1, 1977, the United States maintained bilateral agreements with 18 countries specifically limiting textile imports under the provisions of the Multifiber Arrangement. Most of these agreements were scheduled to expire on or before December 31, 1977, but all were expected to be renewed or renegotiated. Of the 18 agreements, bilateral agreements with 13 countries (the Republic of China, Colombia, Haiti, Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Romania, Singapore and Thailand) contained limitations, or provisions for restraints, on imports of cotton, wool, and man-made fibers. However, the agreement with Japan contained no specific limitations, providing only for consultations in case of a threat of market disruption. The agreement with Haiti did not include restraints on wool textiles, but included a similar consultation provision. The remaining 5 agreements (with Brazil, Egypt, India, Pakistan, and Poland) included restraints on cotton textiles only. In addition, as of October 1, 1977 the United States maintained bilateral agreements with 10 other countries providing for discussion of possible limitations when problems arise. In 1976, the countries with which bilateral agreements were in effect accounted for 82 per cent of U.S. imports of cotton textiles, 53 per cent of U.S. imports of wool textiles, and 75 per cent of U.S. imports of synthetic fiber textiles.

Data for U.S. apparent consumption of cotton, wool, and man-made fibers in the production of textiles for the period 1960–76 show a dramatic increase in the size of the U.S. textile market. Consumption rose from about 3 million tons in 1960 to 5.5 million tons in 1976, with most of the increase accounted for by U.S. mills’ own consumption. Thus, U.S. textile mill production was 43 per cent higher in 1973, a peak year, than in 1967, while U.S. clothing production rose by some 17 per cent. The ratio of imports to U.S. apparent consumption was 7.5 per cent in 1967 and increased gradually to 10.6 per cent in 1976. These averages mask wide divergences in import-penetration ratios 26 in selected lines, as illustrated by the fact that in 1975 the import-to-production ratio in 27 categories or groups was 30 per cent or more. However, imports in most such categories were limited by bilateral agreements under the Multifiber Arrangement. Recent experience with the limitations incorporated in bilateral agreements has been that, although the aggregate limitations established by individual bilateral agreements were not exceeded, imports in certain categories or from certain sources sometimes were in excess of the limits specified; in these cases, bilateral discussions usually led to the application of stricter controls on shipments by the exporting countries.

EEC.27

On the basis of recent data, consumption of manufactured textiles and clothing in the eec is estimated at 4 million tons a year, of which 3.4 million tons are produced locally; eec exports of these commodities range around 0.9 million tons and imports around 1.5 million tons a year. Thus, net imports are about 0.6 million tons, or 15 per cent of total eec consumption. Net imports from developing countries amount to 0.5 million tons, and gross imports from these countries account for slightly over one half of total eec imports. An excess of imports over exports has emerged only since 1974, while in 1973 eec trade in textiles and clothing in volume terms was in equilibrium.

Prior to 1974, seven bilateral agreements were in force between the eec and the principal suppliers of textile products under the provisions of the Long-Term Arrangement. As a signatory of the Multifiber Arrangement of 1974–77, the eec concluded bilateral agreements limiting textile and clothing exports from 15 supplier countries—Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Romania, Singapore, Thailand, and Yugoslavia. The bilateral agreements provide for the limitation of exports by the supplier countries and cover products where the eec faces actual or threatened market disruption. The ceilings incorporated in the agreements are subject, in principle, to annual increases, which are apportioned among the member countries of the eec. The agreements also contain a consultation clause providing for extension of restraints to other textile products in the event of a disruptive increase in the level of imports. These clauses have been invoked on several occasions by the eec. A majority of the eec trade actions on textiles, enforcing explicitly or going beyond the quantitative restrictions negotiated under the Multi-fiber Arrangement, were taken in 1975 and 1977. The bulk of these (36 actions) were implemented under the eec safeguard clause, and 9 surveillance actions and 2 antidumping actions were also taken.

The five most important suppliers of clothing to the eec in 1975 were Hong Kong, with exports to the eec valued at EUR 722 million; Yugoslavia, EUR 244 million; the Republic of Korea, EUR 207 million; the Republic of China, EUR 160 million; and Greece, EUR 148 million.28 This classification of imports by supplier country is, to a certain extent, reflected in the pattern of safeguard, surveillance, and antidumping actions referred to above, inasmuch as a great many of the actions appear to have been directed at imports originating in these countries. The majority of restrictions applied to semiprocessed or finished items, and the frequency of restrictions increased toward the end of the period covered in this study, in particular in 1977 (see Table 1).

Table 1.

EEC: Actions to Restrict Imports of Textiles and Clothing, Classified by Major Suppliers Affected, 1971–771

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Sources: Commission des Communautés Européennes, Mesures de surveillance et de sauvegarde communautaire (Brussels, July 20, 1977), and various decisions published in Official Journal of the European Communities.

This table does not cover bilateral agreements under the Long-Term Arrangement and the Multifiber Arrangement. Unless otherwise specified, all actions listed were taken under safeguard provisions and were usually in the form of quantitative restrictions. The table lists actions initiated during 1972–77 (no actions were taken in 1971) without taking into account their duration or dates of termination.

The information on country coverage is given in the same way as in the official sources cited. References to China and Korea are to the Republic of China and the Republic of Korea.

Some countries or groups of countries are listed more than once in a commodity group for a certain year because certain commodity categories have been aggregated. Many of the actions listed do not apply to all member countries of the eec.

Actions taken under antidumping provisions.

Actions taken under surveillance provisions.

In July 1977, the eec imposed restrictions on imported shirts and cotton yarns originating in Colombia, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Spain, Tunisia, and Turkey, and the level of import quotas for the second half of 1977 was set at half of the 1976 level. The measures were justified under the safeguard clause contained in the trade agreement with Spain, in the Association Agreements with Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey, and in the bilateral agreements with Colombia, India, Malaysia, and Pakistan. The restrictions were implemented after France, in June 1977, had unilaterally introduced quantitative restrictions on textile imports and the eec had objected. Following the approval of the eec measures in July 1977, France agreed to rescind its restrictions.

On December 29, 1977, the eec accepted the extension of the Multi-fiber Arrangement for four years beginning January 1, 1978. The eec made its agreement subject to the negotiation of bilateral agreements with exporting countries and the latter’s adherence to them. Under the 1978–81 arrangement, the eec intends to classify imports in three broad groups. Imports of certain particularly sensitive products would be stabilized at their 1976 levels. Imports of certain other textile products from specified major suppliers would be subject to quantitative limits, and imports of the same products from other countries with which bilateral agreements are concluded would be subject to limits only if they exceed certain threshold levels. By the end of 1977, negotiations had been initiated with 33 exporting countries. At the time this study was written, agreements had been drafted but not yet implemented with 18 exporting countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, the Republic of Korea, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Yugoslavia). In the interim, the quantitative limits on imports expected to be agreed upon in the new bilateral agreements are in practice enforced.

Agreements with Hungary and Poland are pending, awaiting acceptance by these countries. Agreements with minor suppliers (Bangladesh, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, and Iran) do not involve direct bilateral quantitative limitations, since restrictions are to be introduced only if a certain percentage of total eec imports is exceeded by these countries.29

Bilateral agreements under the Multifiber Arrangement are not concluded with countries with which the eec maintains preferential trade relations. Nevertheless, the customs departments of eec member countries have been notified of the quantities of imports to be permitted in 1978 from Greece, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey.

Canada.

In 1970 an official study of the Canadian clothing and textile industries concluded that in general they were competitive with industries in other developed countries but not with the “so-called low-cost or low-priced suppliers” in Japan and in developing countries. In May of the same year the Canadian Government announced a national textile policy, as follows:

  1. To create conditions under which the Canadian textile and clothing industries can continue to move progressively towards viable lines of production on an increasingly competitive basis internationally and domestically.

  2. To accord special measures of protection against imports in instances of formal determinations by the Textile and Clothing Board of serious injury or threat of serious injury conditional upon presentation of suitable adjustment plans by domestic producers to improve their competitiveness. Progressively, and as access to world markets improves, the Canadian industry will be expected to compete more and more without special protection other than the tariff.

  3. To join with other countries in seeking liberalization of international trade in textiles.

  4. To assist Canadian manufacturers and their workers to meet the problems of changing trading conditions through the provision of adjustment assistance and programs to improve productivity and marketing capability.30

The Textile and Clothing Board was created by Parliament a year later as an independent body that would investigate representations of injury by imports to Canadian firms and employment, examine the adjustment plans submitted by such firms, and recommend measures to be taken by the Government. The Interdepartmental Committee on Low-Cost Imports, which has been in existence since 1960, was given the responsibility of reviewing the recommendations of the Board and advising the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce on the effects that such recommendations would have. The Government may accept or reject these recommendations in the light of domestic interests and international commitments. Canada has been a signatory of the 1961/62 Short-Term Arrangement, the 1962–73 Long-Term Arrangement, and the Multifiber Arrangement (1974–77 and 1978–81).

In the years immediately following the announcement of policy in May 1970, Canada’s trade measures in the textile field covered mainly yarns, fabrics, and shirts. However, after mid-1974 demands from producers for more general import relief mounted and led to an extension of Canadian trade actions to a number of finished products.31 Moreover, in November 1976 Canada imposed on all imports of clothing interim global quotas based on 1975 imports. In the event of failure to negotiate five-year bilateral export restraint agreements with 21 major suppliers, Canada intends to maintain global quotas for five years beginning July 1978.

In restraining textile and clothing imports, Canada has used as alternatives global quotas distributed mainly according to traditional market shares and bilateral export restraint agreements negotiated within the framework of the prevailing international arrangement. During the period 1973–77, Canada often found it necessary to provide immediate import relief through global quotas while commencing negotiations for export restraint agreements to replace such quotas. Under these agreements Canada has negotiated varying rates of increase for imports from each source, according to the degree of import penetration by the source and thus its responsibility for market disruption. During the period 1971–77, the increments allowed under export restraint agreements ranged from as low as zero to as high as 52 per cent. Most of these agreements were for a renewable period of one year, although some have been for two or three years.

In certain instances, the global import quotas have applied only to products priced below an announced “price break,”—i.e., to “low-cost imports”—and those priced above have been subject only to surveillance. This system has applied to such products as shirts, acrylic yarn, and work gloves. In isolated instances involving Japanese exports, a global quota has triggered consultations rather than a ban on further imports.

The incidence of Canadian measures on exporting countries has varied widely. Export restraint agreements have been made only with Japan and some developing countries, of which Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, and the Republic of China are the most important suppliers. Other developing countries affected by Canadian measures in this sector have been Argentina, Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Macao, North Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Thailand, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia.

* * * * *

As suggested by the foregoing review, the basic rationale for internationally negotiated arrangements governing world trade in textiles is that they stipulate rules of conduct for exporting countries, in return for which importing countries undertake to avoid imposing restrictions beyond certain limits. The Multifiber Arrangement was concluded under gatt auspices in 1973, but differed from standard gatt precepts in several respects—in particular, the “norm” of a 6 per cent annual growth in exports; the provisions for possible discriminatory safeguard actions against exporting countries responsible for market disruption; and the provisions for international surveillance to be carried out by the Textiles Surveillance Body, which was created specifically for this purpose. The Multifiber Arrangement was the result of the most far-reaching international effort to date to cope with the special problems of trade in textiles.

Experience with the operation of the Multifiber Arrangement in 1974–77 was mixed. While the arrangement can be credited with avoiding a disorderly proliferation of unilateral import restrictions during 1974–75, in the following two years there was a significant rise in pressures for protection of import-competing industries, especially the clothing industry. The most significant recent restrictions in this sector were the imposition of global import quotas on all clothing imports by Canada in November 1976 and by France in June 1977, the latter measure subsequently replaced by the eec restrictions of July 1977.

The upsurge in protectionist pressures in the major importing countries also resulted in their adoption of a considerably more restrictive stance during the negotiations at the end of 1977 on the renewal of the Multifiber Arrangement. According to the compromise reached after considerable difficulty, bilateral agreements to be concluded under the 1978–81 arrangement “include the possibility of jointly agreed reasonable departures from particular elements [of the arrangement] in particular cases.” 32 In effect, therefore, while the text of the Multifiber Arrangement was not amended and therefore retains the key innovations of the 1974–77 accord, including the “norm” of 6 per cent export growth, it remains to be seen to what extent this norm will be incorporated in individual bilateral agreements. In this context, the announced intention of the eec to stabilize imports of certain “sensitive” textile products at their 1976 levels, and the recommendations of the Canadian Textile and Clothing Board to maintain global quotas on clothing imports for five years beginning July 1, 1978 at 1975 levels, may be considered as indicative of continuing pressures in this sector. This is particularly the case since the special safeguard provisions of the Multi-fiber Arrangement were designed explicitly to cope with the problems of market disruption caused by excessive import penetration.

Footwear

United States.

Since 1970, the U.S. footwear industry has experienced severe import competition and declining production and employment, as illustrated by the following data. Production of footwear (with leather uppers) declined in every year between 1970 and 1974, when it amounted to only about three fourths of the 1970 level. Similarly, the number of workers employed in this industry fell by about 17 per cent between 1970 and 1974, while the import-penetration ratio rose steadily, from 21 per cent in 1970 to 27 per cent in 1974. After 1974, U.S. production remained virtually stable and there was a small decline in employment. During 1974–76, there was an expansion of 40 per cent in nonrubber footwear imports. Although in 1976 imports from the Republic of China and the Republic of Korea accounted for less than one half of total imports, the rapid expansion of imports in 1974–76 was due entirely to exports from those countries.

Against this background, the U.S. International Trade Commission concluded, in February 1977, that nonrubber footwear was being imported into the United States in such quantities as to result in serious injury to the domestic industry.33 Although the Trade Commission recommended the imposition of tariff quotas applicable to imports from all sources to remedy the injury, the President decided in April 1977 to reject this advice and to negotiate orderly marketing agreements with principal supplying countries.

Accordingly, bilateral agreements aimed at limiting imports of non-rubber footwear into the United States were concluded with the Republic of China and the Republic of Korea beginning June 1977 for a period of four years. The agreements provide for a specific annual rate of growth for imports of various types of nonrubber footwear. As Korea is a contracting party to the gatt, the United States informed the gatt of its agreement with Korea and invoked the safeguard provisions of the gatt to justify these restrictions.

Canada.

In August 1975, in response to pressures from domestic producers of rubber footwear, Canada withdrew duty-free treatment of imports of footwear until December 1979. In September 1977, the Anti-Dumping Tribunal found that the share of Canadian producers in the domestic market for all footwear had dropped continuously since 1975, and that imports of certain types of footwear were causing or threatening to cause serious injury to domestic producers. As a result, imports of women’s footwear from all sources were placed under surveillance, with the intention of concluding orderly marketing agreements with the major suppliers.

Effective December 1, 1977, Canada decided to impose a global quota on all footwear imports (except downhill ski boots and footwear made of waterproof plastic, rubber, or canvas) of 32.5 million pairs annually. This was equivalent to average annual imports in the three years 1974–76. In announcing this global quota, the Canadian authorities emphasized that domestic producers were expected to strengthen their competitive position through appropriate structural adjustments. It was expected that after a transitional period domestic producers would be able to compete with imports under normal levels of tariff protection.

Other Recent Trade Actions

United States

Apart from the actions in the specific sectors described above, the United States has taken other actions in recent years to protect domestic industries from disruptive imports or from imports deemed to have been dumped or subsidized (see Table 2). The actions have been taken under several provisions incorporated in U.S. legislation, of which the principal ones are “escape clauses,” which may lead to the imposition of higher customs tariffs or import quotas, including orderly marketing agreements and voluntary export restraint agreements; antidumping duties; and countervailing duties.

Table 2.

United States: Summary of Trade Actions, 1971–771

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Source: Data provided by the U.S. authorities.

Letters indicate the following: A=antidumping duties; C=countervailing duties; E=“escape clause” actions (tariff adjustments and quotas only; orderly marketing agreements, including voluntary export restraints, are excluded). Figures in parentheses indicate the number of actions, where more than one was taken.

The table includes trade actions in the steel and textile sectors discussed in the subsection, “Trade Actions in Selected Sectors,” pp. 10–25 above. It lists actions initiated during 1971–77 without taking into account their duration or dates of termination. Many of the actions listed do not apply to all exporting countries.

The imposition of countervailing duties is waived for these products until January 1, 1979 under the U.S. Trade Act of 1974, pending the outcome of the Tokyo Round of the multilateral trade negotiations in the area of export subsidies.

During 1971–77, the U.S. International Trade Commission considered 57 “escape clause” cases, of which only 4 led to the imposition of import restrictions: increased tariffs on certain ballbearings (1973); import quotas and orderly marketing agreements on specialty steel (1976) and orderly marketing agreements on footwear (1977) referred to earlier; and an orderly marketing agreement covering U.S. imports of color television sets and parts from Japan, concluded for a three-year period in July 1977. The last, which limits Japanese exports of color television sets to the United States to 1.75 million units annually, was negotiated against the background of a sharp rise in the Japanese share of the U.S. market: in 1976 about 80 per cent of U.S. imports of color television sets were from Japan, and the Japanese share of the total U.S. market was 37 per cent, compared with 18 per cent in 1975. In this case, the Trade Commission had recommended an increase in tariffs, but the President decided instead to negotiate an orderly marketing agreement.

In 26 of the remaining 53 “escape clause” cases the Trade Commission made a negative finding, while in 27 cases the President either determined not to restrict imports in cases of split votes in the Commission, or modified an affirmative recommendation and decided to introduce adjustment assistance measures to help the industries or workers affected by import competition rather than to introduce restrictive measures. In respect of sugar, the President decided to grant subsidies to domestic producers. As of February 1978, final determination of 4 other “escape clause” cases was pending.

Under the antidumping provisions, 140 cases were investigated during 1971–77. Of these, positive findings were made with respect to 41 cases.34 The findings made in 1971–77 dealt with a variety of goods, including capital goods, intermediate products, and consumer goods, although no primary products were involved. Virtually all cases were in respect of imports from industrial countries: Japan (17), Canada (8), and Italy, France, and the United Kingdom (3 each). One positive finding was made with respect to products exported by Argentina, Brazil, and Poland.

Requests for 61 countervailing duties were investigated during 1971–77, of which 37 were determined in the affirmative.35 The products involved consisted of processed foods, steel, glass, and consumer goods (e.g., footwear and leather products). With one exception, countervailing duties were imposed, ranging from 0.2 to 19.8 per cent. A duty of 59 per cent was levied in January 1976 on certain footwear imported from the Republic of China, but it was revoked in May 1977. The products made subject to countervailing duties affected the exports of many industrial as well as developing countries. With respect to three processed foods (dairy products, canned ham, and boneless beef), countervailing duties were assessed against imports from all member countries of the eec.

The U.S. Meat Import Act of 1964 established a system of quotas on imports of certain types of beef, veal, and other meat products, under which import quotas may be imposed if the annual ratio of imports to domestic commercial production exceeds the weighted average annual ratio for 1959–63. Import quotas go into effect automatically if the amounts implied by this ratio are exceeded by 10 per cent. In practice, whenever imports have exceeded the trigger amounts, the application of import quotas has been suspended and voluntary restraint agreements have been negotiated with each major exporting country. In 1977, the United States maintained such agreements with 13 exporting countries.

EEC

Table 3 summarizes, on the basis of available information, the trade actions taken in the period 1971–77 by the eec in respect of import surveillance, safeguards, and antidumping. The significance of the measures listed in the table varies according to the severity, the duration, and the product and country coverage. Nevertheless, the table suggests an increasing trend toward restrictive trade actions and a concentration of measures in particular sectors: the actions in 1977 equal in number those of the previous three years combined; and for the period as a whole, one half of all actions related to textiles.

Table 3.

EEC: Actions to Restrict Imports Under Safeguard, Surveillance, and Antidumping Provisions, 1971–771

article image
Sources: Official Journal of the European Communities, various issues, and data provided by the gatt secretariat.

Most actions were taken under safeguard provisions and include the actions affecting textiles and steel discussed in the subsection, “Trade Actions in Selected Sectors,” pp. 10–25 above. The table lists actions initiated during 1971–77 without taking into account their duration or dates of termination. Many of the actions listed do not apply to all member countries of the eec or to all exporting countries.

Bilateral agreements under the Long-Term Arrangement and the Multifiber Arrangement are not covered here.

Apart from the trade actions relating to steel and other metals, textiles and clothing, and footwear, the eec took a relatively large number of actions in respect of chemicals and fertilizers during 1971–77. Antidumping actions against imports of fertilizers accounted for more than one half of all actions in this sector: four actions against Yugoslavia in 1971, two against Poland and Romania in 1972, one against Romania in 1976, and one against gatt countries and one against all countries in 1977.

The measures affecting imports of machinery and appliances included three safeguard and three antidumping actions taken during 1976–77, applying to imports from Japan (ballbearings and tapered roller bearings and housing for ball, roller, or needle bearings), the Republic of China (pipage system accessories and bicycle chains), Brazil and Mexico (binder and baler twine for agricultural machinery), and certain Eastern European countries (bulbs).

In addition, the United Kingdom introduced restrictions on imports of monochrome television sets from the Republic of Korea in 1977. U.K. imports of television sets have risen sharply in recent years and in 1977 accounted for 50 per cent of the U.K. market. Imports from Korea grew from a negligible amount in 1975 to 2,143 sets in 1976 and to over 300,000 sets in 1977 (some 37 per cent of estimated annual sales in the United Kingdom). This growth was considered to be excessive and to threaten serious injury to domestic producers, to cause severe disruption of the market, and to have adverse effects on other exporting countries in the U.K. market. Accordingly, restrictions introduced during the second half of 1977 established annual quotas on imports from Korea of 35,000 sets for 1977 and 1978. This action was taken under the gatt safeguard provisions and was notified to the gatt as an eec measure.

Another problem sector in the eec in recent years has been the meat sector, where supply and demand have fluctuated widely in the 1970s. A massive increase in imports took place in 1972–73 in response to a shortage, and imports reached 950,000 tons in 1973. In 1974 a situation of excess supply developed—both in the eec and in other markets—as a result of stagnant demand and a lagged supply response to high prices of earlier years. The eec, under the safeguard provisions of the gatt, at first discontinued temporarily the issuance of licenses for imports of meat and live cattle. Later in 1974 a system of marrying meat imports with the purchase of meat from within the eec (jumelage) was introduced for deep-frozen meat. Imports fell to 350,000 tons in 1974 and 140,000 tons in 1975, and the eec market became virtually closed to some exporting countries. These measures were rescinded progressively beginning in 1975, and the safeguard actions were terminated in April 1977.

Canada

A summary of Canadian trade actions during 1971–77 is given in Table 4, which shows the greater number of actions taken during the two years 1976–77, including actions in the textile and footwear sectors described earlier. Few specific actions were taken in the steel sector until 1977, when three antidumping actions were pending.

Table 4.

Canada: Measures Affecting Imports, 1971–7711

article image
Sources: Canadian Office of Special Import Policy and gatt secretariat.

Letters indicate the following: A=import surveillance; B=surtax or withdrawal of preferential tariff; C=antidumping duties; D=quantitative restrictions; and E=export restraint agreements or voluntary export restraints.

Figures in parentheses indicate the number of actions, where more than one was taken. Thus “D(2)” stands for the imposition of two quantitative restrictions. Because a quantitative restriction applying to all countries is counted as one measure, the conclusion of one or more bilateral export restraint agreements for a given product is also counted as one measure. Preliminary findings of dumping not subsequently upheld are excluded. Renewals of measures are not counted as new measures.

The duration of trade actions is not taken into account. Many of the actions do not apply to all exporting countries. Trade actions discussed in the subsection, “Trade Actions in Selected Sectors,” pp. 10–26 above, are included in this table.

Proposal is pending.

Reflecting the worldwide supply-demand imbalances affecting particularly trade in beef and veal, the Canadian meat sector has been subject to wide fluctuations in recent years. Thus, the ratio of imports of beef and veal to domestic production ranged between 8 per cent and 17 per cent during the period 1969–76, except in 1973 when it reached a peak of 19 per cent. In November 1973 Canada introduced a three-month declining surtax on imports of live cattle and fresh beef.

The embargo announced by the eec in July 1974 had implications for Canada as an exporter but more so as an importer. To forestall the possibility that suppliers normally exporting to the eec would divert their exports to the Canadian market, Canada invoked gatt safeguard provisions and imposed import quotas on live cattle and fresh and frozen beef and veal in August 1974. The quota on live cattle was lifted in August 1975, but the quota on beef and veal was continued until December 1975. These measures drastically reduced the ratio of imports to production, from 19 per cent in 1973 to 12 per cent in 1974 and 10 per cent in 1975. During the course of 1976, however, the ratio began to rise rapidly. For the period October-December 1976, Canada again invoked Art. XIX of the gatt and reimposed import quotas. These were subsequently replaced by orderly marketing agreements with Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

Japan

The available information indicates that Japan has introduced relatively few import restrictions, and from this information it is not possible to substantiate unofficial reports regarding the use of indirect actions affecting imports.

The products that have been affected during the period 1974–77 include imports of bovine meat (“escape clause” action under Art. XIX of the gatt), thrown silk and silk fabrics (surveillance, prior confirmation), and a small number of other products. Quantitative restrictions remain in force for 27 categories of imports (reduced from 120 in 1969), of which 22 are agricultural commodities (reduced from 90 in 1969).

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