Major American firms conducting business with the Soviet Union probably will feel few immediate effects from recent private and government retaliatory actions to curtail trade with the Russians.
Many business spokesmen interviewed yesterday, said they were unsure what effect that governmental and private actions in recent days will have on their business. They insist, however, that their relationships with the Soviets are minimal and generally irregular anyway.
The uncertainty of the business people was due to the quickly changing and often confusing nature of activities resulting from the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.
On Wednesday leaders of the nation's largest dock workers union, the International Longshoreman's Associatation, announced a total boycott against loading and unloading shipments to and from the Soviet Union.
Several hours later President Carter suspended all licenses to export high technology and strategic items to the Soviet and froze those shipments there. Five days earlier Carter halted shipment of grain, the main export to Russia.
Meanwhile, yesterday leaders of the 60,000 member International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, the West Coast dock workers, said they wouldn't boycott Soviet vessels, somewhat muting the East Coast workers attempts.
"We are deeply disturbed and troubled by the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union," a statement from the union said. But it added that a cargo boycott "is a serious and potent weapon only to be used under the most compelling circumstances."
The ILWU is boycotting Iranian cargo, however, because. "The lives of Americans are directly involved," said, ILWU spokesman Daniel Beagle.
They said embargos have proven ineffective in the past and that most goods the Russians need can be obtained from Western European countries or Japan. Besides effects of the boycott can be muted because the Soviets can receive exports and imports through Montreal, where they have good relations, or American firms may send cargo by air or through the West Coast dock workers.
Many of the spokesmen for 10 of the nation's major firms trading with Russia seemed to echo Beagle's sentiment, urging a separation of business and state: In other words, leave foreign policy up to the government and business with the Russians up to business.
As a result of the cargo boycott, a spokesman for Occidental Petroleum, which in 1973 agreed to build Russia an ammonia plant and equip it with phosphoric acid in exchange for the importation of its ammonia, said yesterday they expect "no imminent difficulty."
All current shipments of highgrade phosphoric acid to Russia and boatloads of ammonia from the Soviet Union have been completed, a spokesman said. But another company official, said, "It's a difficult situation. At this moment we can't load a ship to go (to Russia) and we can't load a ship to come back."
Currently, the only restriction to Occidental is the cargo boycott. Government prohibitions aren't involved, according to Commerce official Roger Stechschulte. But he added that the government is considering requiring validated license for Occidental to ship phosphoric acid to the Soviets. No more validated licenses, however, are being issued due to the Russian situation.
Phosphoric acid was the nation's leading non agricultural export to Russia during the first six months last year. It comprised of $46.4 million of the nation's exports during the first six months compared to $3.7 billion in export trade to the USSR for the entire year, according to the Commerce Department.
Many business people interviewed yesterday said they felt no immediate pinch in either the export or import business. So Americans probably will not thirst for lack of Soviet vodka and Russians who now consume millions of cases of American soft drinks, will continue to have "a Pepsi Day" and "a Coke and a Smile," at least in the short term.
The boycott "would affect us, but we don't know how," said Hank Schones, president of Monsieur Henri wines, importers of Stolichnaya vodka. "But we've always had problems with the Russians shipping anyway."
Imports of Soviet goods are only $700 million a year, the Commerce Department said. During the first six months last year leading imports were platinum metals, $47.3 million, anhydrous ammonia, $19.6 million and base metals, including palladium used to make catalytic converters for new automobiles, $4.6 million.
A Commerce officials, however, said that the country has a stockpile of metals for automobile parts. The Commerce officials added, however, that it was unclear whether the United States would be able to import its chrome, platinum and palladium from South Africa or Rhodesia instead of Russia now.