The White House, after two grueling months of analysis, has decided to challenge the International Trade Commission in the case of the Communist clotespins.
White House special assistant Robert Strauss has announced President Carter's rejection of an ITC recommendation to impose import quotas for five years on wooden clothespins produced by the People's Republic of China and at least three other communist countries.
The ITC action last July came after four domestic manufacturers claimed their sales had dropped dramatically since 1973 because of the cheaper communist-made imports were flooding the American market.
Last year, for example, some 446.1 million wooden clotespins were imported, with 46 percent of that total coming from China, Romania, Poland and Czechoslovakia. But only 40 percent of the money went to those four countries, causing domestic manufacturers to scream of clotespin dumping.
According to Washington attorney David Simon, who represents four of the U.S. firms calling for import quotas, the average package of 50 communist-made clothespins sells for between 45 and 55 cents, while the domestic pins go for 75 to 85 cents per pack of 50.
Profits on wooden clothespins amount to little more than splinters, Simon says. "The domestic industry is operating on a profit of seven-tenths of one present. Production has declined since 1973, he says, from 5.3 million gross to 4.2 million last year.
"If we don't get relief soon," he said, "it is possible all four domestic producers will go out of business."
Simon blamed the low wage rates in communist countries for allowing the communist countries for allowing the imports to be sold in the U.S. for less than it costs domestic manufacturers to make their pins.
He also said that three of the four producers are the major industry in the towns they are located in, and their closure could cause the serious trouble for the communities.
Diamond International Corp., with a plant in Peru, Maine; Forster Manufacturing Co., Wilson Maine, Penely Corp., West Paris, Maine, and National Clothespins Co., Montpelier, Vt., all say they are in trouble. THey employ an estimated 400 people.
President Carter, however, felt that the kind of import quotas wanted by domestic pinners was "not in the national economic interest."
Pointing out that although imports from China have become an increasing component of total imports, Carter said, "other foreign sources . . . are able to supply clothespins to the U.S. market at prices substantially below the prices charged by U.S. producers."