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which caused sharp domestic shortages and brought on the rapid acceleration of inflation," he added.
Mr. Meany said the American trade surplus last year is a dangerous illusion since imports continue to flood the United States market, wiping out jobs and industries.
But the most disturbing aspect, he said, is that America is exporting sophisticated technology that is used abroad to create jobs to maufacture products that will compete with American goods.
Mr. Meany said Congress should repeal some of the tax breaks that provide incentives for multinational corporations to do business outside the United States. He said United States corporate profits from foreign operations were taxed last year at an effective rate of five per cent.
United States Exports and Imporis
Billions of dollars, seasonally adjusted $7.6
U.S. HAD SURPLUS IN '73 PAYMENTS, FIRST IN 14 YEARS WASHINGTON—Aided by more black ink in the fourth quarter, the U.S. in 1973 registered the first yearly surplus in its "basic" balance of payments since it started collecting the figures in 1960.
The $1.21 billion surplus reported by the Commerce Department is a vast improvement from 1972's $9.84 billion deficit in this key statistic and illustrates how swiftly a turnaround has occurred in the nation's financial accounts with the rest of the world.
Government analysts yesterday warned that a big splash back into the red could occur just as swiftly this year, however. This well could happen, these analysts say, if the U.S. doesn't gain trade-off concessions from major oilexporting countries for the large supplies of expensive crude oil expected to be shipped here now that the Arab embargo has been lifted. Unless these exporters are encouraged to invest a good portion of their U.S.-generated oil receipts in American goods and services, this country's payments position will deteriorate rapidly, the analysts say.
The surplus in the basic payments position contrasts with deficits reported earlier using two other measures of the payments balance. On the "official reserve transactions" basis, the U.S. recorded a $5.29 billion deficit last year, and on the "net liquidity" measure, a $7.79 billion deficit was registered.
But the basic balance figure is considered by many analysts to be the best guide for determining the trend in U.S. international payments because shortterm capital flows, which can often be quite volatile, aren't included in it.
The basic balance reflects trade, government grants, long-term corporate investments and a few other key ingredients. The official-reserves basis, on the other hand, mainiy measures dollars accumulated by foreign central banks through exchange-market operations. And the “net liquidity" measurement counts nearly all the net flow of dollars to or from foreigners in private as well as governmental transactions.
The $24 million fourth quarter surplus in the basic balance was much smaller than the $2.55 billion surplus of the third quarter, which was the first quarterly surplus since 1969. A $1.56 billion deficit was posted in the 1972 final quarter.
The surplus last quarter was trimmed primarily by a $1.73 billion deficit in long-term private capital flows, which offset big gains in the merchandise trade balance and the U.S. "services" account, which covers such things as travel and tourism. The capital deficit reflected a rise in U.S. direct investment abroad, a decline in foreign direct investments here and an increased net outflow in other net long-term private capital transactions, the Commerce Department said.
The fourth quarter merchandise trade balance was a $1.36 billion surplus, up from a $612 million surplus in the third quarter. The "services” account showed a surplus of $2.61 billion, up from a $1.54 billion surplus in the previous quarter.
[From the Journal of Commerce, Mar. 14, 1974]
(By A. E. Cullison) TOKYO.-It is considered by the United States Department of Commerce that it is too early to determine whether the latest Japanese export drive might cause another very serious imbalance for America in trading with Japan this year, but Washington definitely will be watching the situation extremely carefully over the next few weeks and months.
This was revealed today by U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce John K. Tabor in a meeting with newsmen in the American Embassy in Tokyo. Mr. Tabor told the press the U.S. definitely did not want another huge trade deficit with the Japanese.
"The United States is indeed most encouraged,” he said, by the results of the year 1973 in which the deficit balance of the U.S. in its trade with Japan was reduced from an annual total of $4.2 billion to $1.3 billion.”
He explained that this improvement in the situation "involves much greater access to the Japanese market for American exporters.” The undersecretary added that while the Commerce Department is encouraged, "nevertheless the $1.3 billion is still a big deficit and we want very much to see a continuation of the direction and the momentum of the past year.”
ARRIVED MONDAY Mr. Tabor arrived in Japan on Monday and is expected to leave for Taiwan tomorrow to attend the official opening of another American trade center. His stay in the Japanese capital coincided with a prediction by leading trading house executives and manufacturers that Japan's current export drive in 1974 will bring the nation's exports this year to something between $50 billion and $52 billion.
These figures are considerably higher than the official estimates released earlier by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). The govfrnment's official expectation is that the nation's exports will total no more than $18 billion for the year.
"With close consultation with our friends in Japan,” the Commerce underSecretary said, "we hope that the overall problems both in trade and fiscal affairs and security matters will always proceed on a multilateral basis and in the spirit of cooperation rather than in the spirit of autarchy or go it alone or begger thy neighbor spirit.”
He told the press Washington hoped that the U.S. could avoid a repetition of the experiences of 1971 and 1972 when the Japanese pushed their exports to the American market to the extent that a $4.2 billion annual surplus was built up for Japan.
BASIO REACTION CITED
Speaking of the problems of such a surplus, the Commerce undersecretary commented: “The basic Washington reaction is that so long as the necessary effort by the Japanese to continue to export is consistent with the principles of techniques which were used in 1973, namely that there was an equal receptivity to the exports from America into Japan of both consumers goods, investment opportunities and capital goods sales, that this does not raise any great concern in America."
He explained that, based upon his conversations while he has been in Japan this trip, he does not expect to see such a deficit developing for the U.S.
"It is too early to say, and I think to a large degree it will depend upon the degree to which American imports are received here and this includes a retention of the diminished barriers that now exist and, as we have earlier indicated, a further reduction of barriers," Mr. Tabor said.
He admitted it is quite possible the trade figure for both countries can be a healthy one. But he added that Washington will watch the situation with great interest in the months to come.
Mr. Tabor emphasized that "it is possible that a figure which will be healthy from the American viewpoint can be urged and we will be watching closely over the weeks and months ahead to assure that."
MONEY SHIFTS CITED Speaking of the recent up and down changes in the relative values of the Japanese yen and the American dollar, the Commerce undersecretary told the newsmen that the Nixon Administration does not want to see the yen decline too much in value because of the trading position edge this might well give Japan in the U.S. market.
"It has been an essential part of United States policy since President Nixon's, I think, very old and realistic policy of devaluing the dollar, not to have it artificially support any of our competitors in the export field,” he commented. “Therefore, the present floating arrangement of both the dollar and the gen is, I think, in the best interest of realistic trade policies."
Mr. Tabor declined to say what the proper exchange rate for the dollar should be in terms of the Japanese currency, but he suggested that the general range of the present time is realistic. The yen-dollar rate is around 280 yen to the American dollar,
CONCERN OVER YEN VALUE He said he delivered the * * * Japanese might have some concern if the rate of the yen decreases in the sense that it goes over 300 or 302 yen to the dollar because it could create the possiblity of the kind of competitive devaluation that the C.S. does not think is in the best interest of all trading countries.
"We think such competitive devaluations are not a healthy development," he said. "We think that perhaps the Japanese would recognize this could expose them to an unhealthy situation," Mr. Tabor added.
Although he avoided commenting on the point, it was explained to the U.S. undersecretary of Commerce that only recently a prominent Japanese trading house had predicted a deficit for the U.S. in trading with Japan this year of $3,3 billion, he did warn that there has to be reciprocal opportunities for America to export to Japan and to enjoy investment opportunities in Japan.
[From the Wall Street Journal, Mar. 28, 1974]
TRADE SURPLUS SLASHED IN MONTH BY OIL IMPORTS
U.S. BLAMES JUMP OF 22 PERCENT IN COSTS OF PETROLEUM FOR PLUNGE
IN FEBRUARY WASHINGTON.—The nation's soaring oil-import bill bit deeply into the U.S. trade surpius in February, helping shrink it to a third of the January level.
Exports outran imports by a seasonally adjusted $213.1 million last month, the Commerce Department said, as overall imports paced by increasingly costly oil, surged 14% from January. The February trade surplus was much slimmer than the adjusted $643.8 million black-ink showing in January, but a vast improvement over the $411.6 million deficit in February 1973.
The February report demonstrated how the monthly surpluses that the U.S. has had since mid-1973 are increasingly vulnerable to the rising cost of petroleum. The volume of oil imports dropped about 4% last month, but their value jumped 22%e, reflecting the spectacular price boosts of recent months.
RENEWAL OF SHIPMENTS Renewal of shipments of high-priced Arab oil to the U.S., following the recent lifting of the six-month embargo, is sure to accelerate the rise in the nation's oil import bill and imperil its trade surplus. The surging oil bill is the main factor behind Nixon administration predictions that the trade balance will swing into the red during the year and may show a deficit for all 1974 after last year's surplus of $1.68 billion.
The department said U.S. exports rose 7% in February to an adjusted $7.61 billion from January's $7.11 billion, and were a hefty 50% above the year-earlier level of $5.07 billion.
Commerce Secretary Frederick Dent said the February export advance was broadly based. The largest single factor, he said, was a surge in shipments of commercial aircraft. Agriculture exports "were mixed,” he said, with a sizable gain in soybean shipments partly Offset by declines in rice, wheat and corn exports.
The "major element" in the 14% climb in imports, Mr. Dent said, was the higher cost of foreign oil. Detailed figures issued by the department showed imports of petroleum and related products totaled 164.2 million barrels, down 4.4% from January. But the value of these products rose to $1.51 billion, up 22% from $1.22 billion in January.
IMPORTANT FACTORS "Although U.S. foreign trade has been consistently in surplus since last July," Mr. Dent said in a statement, “it is clear that the volume and price of petroleum imports will be important factors in the balance of trade this year." He didn't make any new forecast for the U.S. trade balance for 1974, but he indicated earlier he expects a deficit about as large as last year's surplus.
For the first two months of 1974, the U.S. had a cumulative surplus of $856.9 million, compared with a deficit of $700.7 million in the 1973 period.
The department said the U.S. trade account was in deficit by $297 million in February when calculated on the basis used by most other nations, compared with a $165.4 million surplus on that basis in January. The dual bookkeeping on trade figures was started in January to provide one set of figures comparable to those of other nations.
UNITED STATES-WEST GERMAN TRADE COMPARISONS Our administration asserts that our labor costs are too high. That despite two dollar devaluations, our increased labor costs have driven us right out of the international marketplace. They assert that this is the reason why we are great exporters of agricultural products (a low labor intensive industry) and cannot be very large exporters of manufactured goods.
I should like to submit for the record these various newspaper accounts of the German wage earner. He makes more than his American counterpart, yet the Germans are still very well able to increase their exports of manufactured goods. The West German balance of payments is soaring into surpluses despite the fact that they have to import most of their petroleum.
There seems to be a blatant contradiction in what the administration is telling us on this particular matter.
[From the Washington Post, Oct. 14, 1973]
WEST GERMAN PAY RATES SOAR
(By David Haworth) Pay rates in Western Germany are equal to—and in some industries even exceed—salaries paid in the United States, which until now has always been the world's highest-paying nation.
According to a study published here by a management consultant firm, a German marketing executive in an engineering company gets an average of $32,200 a year compared with his U.S. counterpart who will receive an annual $29,540. A manufacturing manager in Germany this year is getting an average of nearly $2,000 more than he would in America, and the finance manager will get an extra $400 above his U.S. opposite number's income.
Although these differences are not large, they indicate a new trend. The study also points out that the recent variations in the exchange rate caused a further increase of some 20 percent in the German pay levels in relation to those in the U.S. since the inquiry's figures were completed earlier in the year.
The survey concludes that French pay levels are not far behind the German ones, averaging at the moment some $2,000 a year less for comparable executive jobs, but rapidly closing the gap. In contrast, Britain and Ireland, the two worst-paying countries in the nine-member Common Market, seem to have little prospect of catching up with their more dynamic partners.
Working hours have gone up in Germany, however, though they have dropped in all other European Economic Community countries. The report shows up one oddity. German executives insist on having an "elegant office and this is their most commonly expected bonus. In the U.S. a paid-up club membership, a company car and an entertainment allowance are the most valued job bonuses.
It is better to retire in France, Italy or Luxembourg, the report says, but France and Belgium give the best social security handouts to families. Italy is at the bottom of the ranking for per capita wealth.
Bonuses and other cash payments are shown to be an important part of West German and U.S. salary structures, but virtually none is given in Britain. Special types of remuneration, such as representational fees, extra holiday and subsidized housing are less in the U.S. than elsewhere. They are most numerous in Japan.
Despite America's slipping position in the salary league, the report points out that the country still has by far the highest gross national product of any other nation in the world: $1.15 trillion last year. The survey cites Japan as the second leading economic entity, with a GNP of about $274 billion, followed by West Germany with an estimated $258 billion.
The combined GNP of the nine European Economic Community countries is rapidly approaching that of the U.S., last year reaching some $824 billion.
[From the Washington Post, Sept. 2, 1973)
THE RELATIVE WEALTII OF NATIONS West Germany has now equalled the United States in national wealth per person. It happened last Thursday. The exchange rate of the dollar, sinking steadily on the Frankfurt exchange, hit the point at which the German level in marks is worth as much as the American in doilars. On Friday the dollar sank a bit more and left the Germans, technically at least, just a bit richer than we.
This new fact is going to change the way that Americans look at the world and at themselves. It may strengthen the current disinclination to carry the burdens of world leadership. It will probably stiffen this country's economic negotiations with other countries. It will certainly set off a long slightly defensive debate on the defects and omissions of the conventional methods of measuring wealth. But there is no doubt about the message that those conventional methods currently convey.
To the extent that national wealth can be reduced to a single figure, it is Gross National Product. GNP is, as the textbooks say, the grand total of all the goods and services sold for money in a country. In the United States, GNP per capita for 1973 will probably be about $6,100.