There are between 150 and 360 trade bills before Congress this year, depending on how they are categorized. Some are routine measures seeking tariff exemptions; some are highly protectionist bills seeking to help specific industries, and some take a broader approach to America's record trade deficits. In addition, House Republicans and Democrats are working on separate omnibus trade bills. In the Senate, Republicans and Democrats also are drafting broad trade legislation that might float under a bipartisan label.
Following are a few of the bills that administration officials, congressional specialists and private analysts believe have the greatest chance of success.
*Textiles. A bill to reduce textile imports sharply is generally considered on the fastest track and may come up in early October. With more than half the Senate and about two-thirds of the House listed as cosponsors, its passage is virtually assured in both houses. But Reagan has threatened to veto it, and both sides are already maneuvering for votes in the override fight.
The House version, which would cut imports of textiles and apparel by as much as 40 percent, sets quotas on foreign-made products from all countries except Canada and Western Europe. It hits hardest at the 12 largest exporters to the United States, all of which are developing Asian nations, with the exception of Brazil, and each of which supplied more than 1.25 percent of textile imports to the United States last year. Imports from those countries would suffer substanial rollbacks: as much as 90 percent for Indonesia and Brazil, 70 percent from Thailand and 60 percent from China, according to State Department estimates. More liberal quotas would be set for countries that export less to the United States. Chief sponsor of the measure is Rep. Ed Jenkins (D-Ga.).
The chief Senate sponsor, Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), softened the bill by reducing its principal targets to the three largest importers -- Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. To gain votes in the Senate, however, Thurmond has added a section setting quotas on footwear imports.
*Surcharge. A measure sponsored by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), Rep. Richard A Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Sen. Lloyd M. Bentsen (D-Tex.) is widely considered as the principal Democratic initiative to cut the trade deficit.
It would require the president to impose a 25 percent surcharge on countries with large trade surpluses with the United States and other countries that maintain barriers to the sale of American and other foreign products in their markets. If the bill were in effect today, it would apply to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Brazil. Hong Kong, which would be included on the basis of its trade surplus, escapes the surcharge because of its extremely open markets.
The administration calls the bill "rank protectionism," but its sponsors describe it as "market expanding" legislation and insist the affected countries would end trade barriers rather than be slapped with a surcharge.
*Telecommunications. The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation sponsored by Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.) that would restrict entry of telecommunications equipment from any country that denies U.S. equipment the same access to its markets that its products get in the United States. The bill is aimed primarily at Japan, which would have six months to provide equal access, but could also affect Western European nations, which would have two years to comply. Rep. Robert T. Matsui (D-Calif.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which handles trade legislation, introduced a similar bill in the House last week.
The rationale behind the bill is that the breakup of American Telephone and Telegraph Co. Inc. gave foreign suppliers unparalleled access to a telecommunications market that previously had been closed because AT&T bought its supplies from its subsidiary, Western Electric Corp. As a result, foreign telecommunications equipment has flooded the U.S. market, while American suppliers have been denied equal access overseas.
*Natural resources. A bill to place duties on imports that benefit from subsidies to such resources as natural gas and timber has been introduced by Rep. Sam Gibbons (D-Fla.), the generally free trade-oriented chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's trade subcommittee. A similar bill is sponsored in the Senate by Max Baucus (D-Mont.). It is aimed at products such as cement, amonia and carbon black from Mexico and lumber from Canada.