Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Renegotiation of the Multifiber Arrangement

August 1, 1986

The President today announced that U.S. trade officials have successfully renegotiated a stronger and more comprehensive multifiber arrangement (MFA) that will help the textile and apparel industries compete more fairly in the international marketplace.

When the President vetoed the Textile and Apparel Trade Enforcement Act of 1985 last December, he directed the Office of the United States Trade Representative to aggressively renegotiate the MFA ``on terms no less favorable than present.'' The new 5-year MFA concluded this morning in Geneva significantly improves on the MFA that expired on July 31. It expands coverage to previously uncontrolled fibers such as ramie, linen, and silk blends, so that textile products made of fabrics engineered to circumvent our bilateral agreements can be restrained. It also provides a mechanism to prevent destructive import surges and improves provisions to prevent fraud. We also made clear in these negotiations that we would continue to pursue measures in our bilateral agreements that will open markets to our textile exports. The new MFA, coupled with tougher bilateral agreements with major trading partners such as Taiwan and Hong Kong, will allow us to moderate growth in textile and apparel imports without incurring reprisals against U.S. exports abroad.

This is an orderly and positive program that stands in sharp contrast with the sledgehammer approach of the Textile and Apparel Trade Enforcement Act. That legislation would cost consumers an extra $44 billion for clothing over the next 5 years -- $70,000 for each job supposedly protected by the bill. And by requiring the unilateral and illegal abrogation of our international agreements, the bill would guarantee retaliation against U.S. exporters -- including the agricultural, aerospace, and high-technology, electronics sectors -- threatening the jobs of the 5 million Americans who produce goods for export. It would pit industry against industry, worker against worker, and region against region. If this legislation becomes law, our trading partners would likely refuse to adhere to the multifiber arrangement and other international agreements. By renegotiating the MFA, we have provided the maximum possible protection for American textile workers without sacrificing jobs in our healthy export industries or overburdening American consumers.