The United States is on the verge of signing an agreement with South Korea and Taiwan that will cut back sharply on the shoes these two countries will export to the United States, Robert S. Strauss, President Carter's Special Trade Negotiator said today.
Although Strauss did not say how much shoe exports would be cut, administration sources have said that the two countries have agreed to reduce their exports to the United States to about 150 to 155 million pairs. Last year, South Korea and Taiwan shipped about 200 million pairs of shoes to the United States.
The shoe industry is the second one the administration has chosen to protect by negotiating voluntary restraints with major exporting countries. Last month, Japan agreed to export 1.75 million color television sets to the United States in each of the next three years, starting July 1. Japan had exported about 2.4 million sets in 1976.
The Carter agreements are attempts to balance the rising tide of protectionism here, more stringent recommendations for protection from the International Trade Commission and the desire to avert international retaliation against unilateral U.S. import restrictions.
Strauss, who was here for a meeting of the 45-member Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations, said that unlike the television agreement, the shoe pact would provide for "modest" increases in exports from South Korea and Taiwan in succeeding years of the agreement.
Earlier this year, the International Trade Commission, which was set up to administer the 1974 trade law, recommended imposing a large tariff increase on shoe imports because of the serious injury foreign-made shoes had caused American shoe manufacturers and worker.
The Trade Commission also had recommended, for essentially the same reasons, big increases in tariffs on both color and black and white imported television sets. President Carter sought to work out - apparently successfully - voluntary arrangements with teh major exporters of shoes instead of imposing the Trade Commission recommendation. He also chose to work out a so-called orderly marketing agreement with Japan, who supplies 8 per cent of the foreign-made color sets sold in the United States. The President took no action on black and white televisions.
Congress can override the President and reimpose the recommendations of the International Trade Commission.
Strauss also told reporters that the United States, the European Community and Japan would begin informal talks next month in Paris on the problem of international trade in steel. The talks will be held under the aegis of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Two weeks ago in New York the nation's major steel producers announced a campaign to convince the government that something had to be done to restrict low cost steel imports into this country.
United States Steel Corp, chairman Edgar B. Speer, who is also head of the industry trade association, the American Iron and Steel Institute, accused Japanese steel producers oof selling below cost in the United States and engaging in "predatory" pricing practices that if engaged in by an American executive would put him in jail.
The United States had proposed formal talks on steel trade as part of the multi-lateral trade negotiations that have been going on in Geneva for four years. Japan, expecially, was cool to the idea.
Strauss also told reporters that the United States has told the major negotiating countries in the Geneva talks that this nation will not negotiate agricultural trade issues separately from manufacturing issues.