The Bush administration has approved a major increase in the amount of textiles and clothing that Turkey can sell here as a reward for its strong opposition to neighboring Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, administration sources said yesterday.
The new agreement, not yet public, was reached in Geneva two weeks ago after President Turgut Ozal of Turkey appealed to Secretary of State James A. Baker III to open U.S. markets to more Turkish textiles. Ozal said this would help relieve the strains on the Turkish economy from the economic sanctions against Iraq.
Ozal made it clear from the first that he thought his country should be rewarded for supporting the U.N. sanctions, a move crucial to their success. Without the support of Turkey, which has a 175-mile-long border with Iraq, the sanctions could have been circumvented easily.
During his visit here in September, Ozal made his pitch to President Bush, who pledged to open negotiations on a new textile agreement in recognition of Turkey's "steadfast" stand against Iraq. Ozal told the president that Turkey wanted "more trade than aid" to help his economy.
The American Textile Manufacturers Association protested that such a change could set a dangerous precedent.
The new agreement increases the quotas on Turkey's clothing and fabric by up to 40 percent for specific products important to its manufacturers, an administration official said. In a few cases, the official added, the quotas were increased by as much as 50 percent.
"We don't do that very often in textiles," he added. Textiles, one of the first export-quantity industries of developing countries, are strictly controlled with bitterly negotiated quotas by most industrialized nations in order to protect their textile companies.
In some cases, negotiators have haggled for days over 2 percent increases.
Turkey now accounts for only 1.3 percent of U.S. textile imports, ranking 20th on a list that is headed by China at 14 percent, Taiwan at 10 percent and South Korea and Hong Kong at 8 percent each.