Turkish Prime Minister Turgut Ozal said yesterday he has complained to President Reagan about restrictions on his country's textile sales in the United States, but the domestic textile industry told Congress it needs more protection from imports to survive.
The visiting prime minister told reporters that Reagan's response was "positive."
Word that Ozal had complained to the president about the restrictions placed on Turkish textile sales came during a meeting with reporters that followed a breakfast speech delivered to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"Turkey is one of only five nations with which the United States has a positive trade balance," Ozal told the audience. "It would seem practical, therefore, that the United States encourage Turkish imports to maintain our ability to continue this relationship."
But he said that newly imposed restrictions are hurting Turkish exports to the United States.
"American authorities are quite rightly complaining about the closed market policies of some Far Eastern countries," Ozal continued. "We are equally concerned about lack of access to American markets."
Ozal's complaint during a U.S. visit designed mainly to promote trade with Turkey graphically illustrates the problems of many lesser developed countries that want to sell textile and apparel products to the United States.
While the Third World nations see textiles as the first step on the road to achieving an industrialized economy, the domestic industry says a flood of imports threatens its survival.
Ozal's comments on U.S. policies in textile trade, for instance, coincided with a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee trade panel at which industry representatives pressed for legislation that would set lower import quotas and put more teeth in the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA) that governs global textile trade.
"The U.S. textile industry and the entire complex, from fiber production to production of the finished apparel, is facing the most serious challenge to its existence in modern times," James H. Martin Jr., president of the American Textile Manufacturers Association, told the subcommittee.
"It is the flood of imports which are posing this challenge," he said.
The administratiuon, however, opposed the legislation as being counter to the MFA. Richard Imus, chief U.S. textile negotiator, said the import problem has lessened in recent months. He said the major problems had to do with the strong dollar, which makes foreign products less expensive in the United States.
The bill also was opposed by a coalition of retailers, who advised Congress not to give in to pressure from an industry "with an insatiable appetite for protection.'
Despite its opposition to stiffer quota legislation, the Reagan administration has supported other industry moves to cut imports.