Washington, August 31, 1960
Hon. ERNEST F. HOLLINGS,
Governor of the State of South Carolina,
DEAR GOVERNOR HOLLINGS: I would, of course, be delighted to discuss with you and with industry leaders the import problems of the textile industry and the development of constructive methods for showing the growth and prosperity of the industry in the future. The critical import situation that confronts the textile industry which you so eloquently describe in your letter is one with which I am familiar. My own State of Massachusetts has suffered and is suffering from the same conditions. The past few years have been particularly difficult for this industry. There seems to have been a basic unwillingness to meet the problem and deal constructively with it. During the first 6 months of this year imports of cotton cloth are twice what they were during the same period in 1959, the highest year on record. Similarly, alarming increases are occurring on other textile and apparel products. Since 1958 imports have exceeded exports by constantly increasing margins. There are now 400,000 less jobs in the industry than there were 10 years ago. It is no longer possible to depend upon makeshift policies and piecemeal remedies to solve the problems which the industry faces.
As you know, I supported the establishment of the Special Senate Subcommittee for the Textile Industry, under the chairmanship of Senator Pastore, of which Senator Strom Thurmond is a member. In an effort to help develop suggestions to improve the competitive position of the industry in the United States and world markets, this subcommittee for the first time undertook a broad investigation of the problems of the U.S. textile industry and offered a number of constructive recommendations. With only minor exceptions, the Eisenhower administration has failed to implement these recommendations.
I agree with the conclusions of the Pastore committee that sweeping changes in our foreign trade policies are not necessary. Nevertheless, we must recognize that the textile and apparel industries are of international scope and are peculiarly susceptible to competitive pressure from imports. Clearly the problems of the industry will not disappear by neglect nor can we wait for a large scale unemployment and shutdown of the industry to inspire us to action. A comprehensive industrywide remedy is necessary.
The outline of such a remedy can be found in the report of the Pastore committee. Imports of textile products, including apparel, should be within limits which will not endanger our own existing textile capacity and employment, and which will permit growth of the industry in reasonable relationship to the expansion of our overall economy.
We are pledged in the Democratic platform to combat substandard wages abroad through the development of international fair labor standards. Effort along this line is of special importance to the U.S. textile industry.
The office of the Presidency carries with it the authority and influence to explore and work out solutions within the framework of our foreign trade policies for the problems peculiar to our textile and apparel industry. Because of the broad ramifications of any action and because of the necessity of approaching a solution in terms of total needs of the textile industry, this is a responsibility which only the President can adequately discharge. I can assure you that the next Democratic administration will regard this as a high priority objective.
Additionally, we shall make vigorous use of the procedures provided by Congress such as section 22 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the escape clause in accordance with the intention of Congress in enacting these laws.
Lastly, I assure you that should further authority be necessary to enable the President to carry out these objectives, I shall request such authorization from the Congress.
I hope that these thoughts are helpful to you in your own deliberations and I reaffirm my interest in discussing problems of mutual concern with you.
With all good wishes, I am,
(s) John F. Kennedy
JOHN F. KENNEDY