President Carter's top trade negotiator reported "substantial progress" at last week's multi-lateral trade talks in Geneva but warned yesterday there will be not overall agreement unless more foreign doors are opend to U.S. farm products.
Strauss's tough talk was aimed at both the Europeans and the Japanese, in the eyes of the Carter administration, does not think either has come far enough in granting access to their home markets for U.S. crops.
Back barely a half-day from the Bonn economic summit, Strauss told a House trade subcommittee "We are not satisfied with our agricultural progress and in my view the Carter administration will not present a trade bill to Congress" unless the Europeans and the Japanese are more forthcoming in the agriculture area.
The top trade negotiators of the 20 dominant Western nations worked almost around-the-clock last week in order to come up with a "political" agreement on major issues in the 42-month-old trade negotiations. Including in the agreement were a code on non-tariff barriers to imports and subsidies to exports as well as access to markets by foreign crop producers, especially the United States.
Since nearly a third of all farm products the U.S. produces is sold abroad, the Carter administration has set a top priority on convincing the European Community and Japan to reduce barriers to agricultural commodities.
Strauss also said that Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda had promised President Carter to take "emergency and extraordinary measures" if the Japanese trade surplus with the United States is not shrinking.
Strauss later said in an interview that there is "specificity" in the agreement with Fukada that the administration cannot say more about now. Fukada is willing to hold down exports of cars and televisions, among other things.
Part of the problem Japan has faced in trying to hold down its trade surplus with the United States is the rising value of the yen. Even if Japan holds its physical exports to the United States to the same level, the value of those exports rises sharply.
That is why Strauss said, the Japanese prime minister will take emergency measures in September if the surplus continues to rise. At the Bonn summit, Japan pledged to hold its 1978 trade surplus to 1977 levels.
Strauss said that he was heartened that major Western nations "strongly renewed" their commitment to the multi-lateral trade talks at the Bonn summit. The Geneva understanding, "endorsed in Bonn" means a top-level political commitment has been made by key countries to essential elements of a set of major new trade agreements," Strauss said in his optimistic review.
He said nations have agreed to set up codes of conduct to prevent the abuse of import licensing and other codes to regulate government procurement and product standards.
Strauss told the congressional panel that the world trading nations had reached an agreement on "multilateral guidelines for government policies" affecting world trade in steel. The agreement was applauded yesterday by union and industry officials.
Strauss said that in return the U.S. trading partners want this country to put an injury test into its laws which prohibit governments from subsidizing exports. The United States is the only major nation that does not require a domestic industry to show that it is being injured by subsidized imports before the Treasury levies special duties.
The major trading partners also want the United States to enter into some commodity agreements on grains, meats and dairy products and also replace this country's complex system of custom valuations with a simpler system.
Strauss said there is much to be gained by an international system of customs valuation that prevents arbitrary judgments.
Strauss said the participants in the trade talks now recognize that without progress on trade in agriculture, there will not be a "positive" conclusion to the trade negotiations.