The government released yesterday an inch-thick report of barriers to U.S. products that it said justifies President Reagan's "get-tough" attitude on trade and proves the need for a new round of global trade talks.
The barriers range from a Korean law that subjects its citizens to arrest on the street for possessing foreign cigarettes and that keeps the U.S. tobacco industry from getting a large share of that country's $1.8 billion market, to Canadian quotas on footwear that cost American shoemakers an estimated $5.75 billion.
"This report demonstrates what President Reagan said a few weeks ago -- that there are too many trade barriers in the world," said U.S. Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter, whose office released the congressionally ordered study covering 34 of the nation's trading partners.
He said the government is trying to eliminate unfair barriers through negotiations or strict enforcement of U.S. and international trade laws.
But other barriers, which are neither illegal nor unfair, need to be tackled in a new round of global trade talks being pushed by Reagan, Yeutter said.
"The existing international trade structure condones too many trade barriers. Beyond that, there are many areas of growing importance -- such as services and investment -- where there are no rules at all," Yeutter said.
"We need to reduce or eliminate legal trade barriers and establish trade rules in areas where none exist today."
He added that the administration is using the 241-page report to establish priorities for U.S. initiatives to fight unfair trade practices.
The report, however, lists none of the U.S.'s barriers to imports from other countries, an omission that is considered certain to draw criticism from trading partners.
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) praised the report and said it can play a major role "in our efforts to shape a national trade policy." He said Yeutter will be asked to testify on the report before the Senate Finance Committee.
Bentsen's Senate Democratic Trade Working Group yesterday unveiled a consensus five-point package that he called "the first step toward implementing an aggressive trade strategy."
Approved Tuesday by the Senate Democratic Caucus, the program would establish a Cabinet-level trade council and give Congress a larger voice in preparing for global trade talks.