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have made regarding world politics, economics, and trade. I can, however, tell you from my own personal experience, and I cover the ports in Philadelphia and Baltimore, that imports and exports are vitally necessary primarily to us and to the rest of the nations with whom we are friendly.
Starting in January 193G, when we were just beginning to edge out of the depression, selling imports for me was Indeed an uphill. problem. In those days, those directly concerned here—I mean by that workmen in the shipping, industries, the stevedores, workmen, truckmen, etc., were lucky if they got a. day or two of work a week. By cooperation over the years, wc have built this up to a fairly active business, which redounds to our benefit as well as the nations who ship to us.
A very considerable tonnage of imports, in fact all of my sales, travels on American lines. It is obvious that no steamship company can long exist operating on just one-way traffic because the cost of their crews, the food and operating expenses go on whether or not they are carrying cargo. There are many, many thousands of people, both men and women, in the United States, particularly in the harbor cities, who depend on imports and exports for their economic life.
Today, even though Philadelphia and Baltimore are running very high in import and export tonnage, I doubt seriously from conversations that I have had with the men themselves that they average 4 days' work a week.
To do anything which might tend to lower their hours of labor would be a serious situation for them. I might say here I fully believe so far as labor is concerned, in my experience the amount of work and labor necessary in unloading, transportation, and fabrication of imports and exports is as large or probably more than that required for domestic production.
If we don't put reciprocal trade on a stable basis as national policy, it would certainly hurt our import trade and react on our exports too. Right now. for instance, with the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act expiring and no new lawpassed, customers don't know what the future will bring and foreign suppliers write all the time asking what they can plan on for the future. Their own governments don't know because the whole thing depends on the United States. Especially with the European Common Market coming, and the Coal and Steel Community, international trade needs stability. We have to know not just for a year at a time what plans to make. This applies to production schedules, equipment, purchases, transportation, shipping, and everything. As the President said, it may take 4 or 5 years to set up a workable reciprocal trade program with Europe under the new Common Market. If we can't plan that far ahead, either the Common Market won't work and this would help nobody but the Communists, or the Common Market countries will be forced to tend to cut us out. This would hurt us a lot more than them because we export much more than they do.
I am happy to tell you that, having made this international trade my life's work, I shall be glad not only if I can continue in the future, as I have'in the past to earn my own living but also contribute greatly to helping the livelihood of many hundreds of people in my immediate districts, Philadelphia and Baltimore. That takes in the railroad companies and the trucking industry which handle our tonnage, the steamship staff, the checkers, and the stevedores themselves. In addition to that, the customs duties paid to the United States Government over the years, and a lot is in my district, amount to billions of dollars.
We all need to know, the steamship companies, the railroads, the truckers, the stevedores, the warehousemen, the insurers, the banks, the workers, that the reciprocal trade program will continue for as long as we can look ahead. That way we can work and plan and all of us benefit, as well as our friends in Europe.
In closing, I wish to say to you gentlemen, in all sincerity, never a ship docks flying the American flag, with import tonnage on board, and I know there are men waiting anxiously to get working on it, that I don't feel a patriotic thrill. I am now 65, and I hope I have the health to continue and that Government. regulations will make it possible, because I realize that when I make a sale a chain of events is set in motion, which starts in Europe and winds up here, where everybody involved in manufacturing, transporting, shipping, selling, and fabricating benefits.
What I have said about my area, I am sure, applies equally to every major ocean port in our country.
Mr. KBT.T.FJt. I would just add this. We are of course in fav< of the extension of the House of Representatives Act 12591 for years to give them an opportunity to get rolling.
Five years goes pretty fast even at that. I am here on behalf < the American Institute for Imported Steel. Directly I am employe by Amerlux Steel Products Corp., of New York, who are the America office of the Luxembourg steel mills.
I do not see how our shipments to the United States can hurt tl American steel industry. We produce only 2 percent of the capacil of the United States. Of that 2 percent, never except during tl Korean conflict have we exceeded 7 percent shipments of that percent to the United States, which was increased largely at the behc of the United States Government.
We helped a lot of industries out at that time. The duties we pa run into many, many millions of dollars, and in the employmei schedule what it means to the men on the waterfront — and incidental! I was there only yesterday, and while this is not in the testimony might give you a brief idea.
First I would like to say I have heard comments here by other wj nesses and questions by the Senators that there would be so mm harm done, and the difference in the wage rates and so forth thai would like to state here that the production capacity of Europe nowhere near as fast as it is in the United States, No. 1.
Here is an indication of what is going right today. This was late as yesterday. This is on the docks now in Philadelphia ready go out: Cloth, oil in large drums, lubricating oil and greases in sin* drums, canned goods, insecticides. There were about 20 large ha balers, a lot of machinery boxed up going to Germany, several li trucks and chemicals from Du Pont.
Coming in was some steel which I had, chemicals, ores, bicycle hams from Holland, burlap cloth which I understand is not nuw in the United States, it is a rough cloth, wood pulp, and napthalec That, gentlemen, concludes what I have to say, and I thank you f< theprivilege of appearing before you. Thank you.
The Chairman. The next witness is Mr. Richard England, of ti Heckinger Co., of Washington, D. C.
Senator Martin. Mr. Chairman, I would like to suggest to the wi ness that if he would be willing to file his statement with the coo mittee and then make a brief comment, the Senate is already in sessio
(The statement referred to is as follows :)
Statement By Richard England, Partner And General Merchandise Mi Aoeb Of Hechingeb Co., Washington, D. C.
My name Is Richard England, and I am n partner and general merchant manager of Hechlnger Co., Washington, D. O. I am here in support of H. I 12591.
My company operates seven building-material supermarkets, catering to tl homeowner who does his own work. Our stores are located In the suburbs i Washington. Many of our several hundred employees are residents of MarylM and more than half of our business is done in the suburban areas outside ti District of Columbia. I am supporting H. R. 12591, as passed by the House i Representatives, for two very important reasons. The first is that the It carries no amendments imposing import quotas on specific commodities. Wh! the bulk of our business is in products made up of American materials by Anei can manufacturers, we do sell a considerable amount of Imported goods, pft ticularly flush doors made with lauan mahogany door skins imported from Japan and plywood panels made with Japanese plywood. Any barrier to our supply of these materials by means of an import quota would not only seriously affect our sales, but would also deprive our customers of an item which many of them purchase in large quantities.
As you are well aware, the building industry has suffered during the last few years, both in the manufacturing end and the retail end, as well. The acceptance by the average American homeowner of lauan mahogany doors and Japanese plywood panels has greatly stimulated our business in an otherwise declining era.
I can tell you, as the general merchandise manager of our concern, that it is most helpful to have an item on our shelves which is in constant and increasing demand, particularly in a recession period.
We find that having imported plywood products available for sale stimulates business in many other departments of our stores. For instance, with almost every sale of mahogany plywood we sell considerable framing lumber, floor tile, insulating ceiling tile, hardware, nails, paint, etc. With a typical sale of flush doors, we either sell sliding-door hardware, hinges, and latches or, if the door is to be made into a piece of furniture, we sell various types of metal or wood legs to convert the door into a coffee table, dining table, desk, etc.
Ninety-nine percent of all the other products we sell in connection with the sale of imported plywood are manufactured in the United States. In this connection, may I point out that for many years we have tried to arouse a largescale demand by homeowners for flush doors made with door skins of Americanorigin and American-made hardwood plywood. Japanese plywood and doors are so much cheaper and, in so many cases, so much more beautiful, that the latter have sold and the former simply have not. We pride ourselves on being good merchants, and a good merchant gives the public what it wants.
This situation is not unique with the Hechinger Co., as many retail building material and hardware dealers throughout the country have found the same situation existing in their businesses. For intance, Mr. E. F. Davis, Jr., vice president of the Davis Plywood Corp., of Cleveland, Ohio, expresses his views in a recent letter as follows, and I quote:
"Contrary to all propaganda against foreign plywood, we have sold more American hardwood since the introduction of foreign woods.
"Imports are cheaper than most American hardwoods, but the interest aroused in the buying public in the possibilities of genuine wood paneling, has brought about many new sales in our more expensive American material. Purchasers have discovered that in many cases, United States-produced woods in other species can be obtained for surprisingly little more cost.
"We are positive that our purchases of United States hardwoods would be greatly reduced and our sales would suffer a tremendous blow if we could not purchase foreign woods."
My second reason for supporting H. R. 12591 is because the 5-year extension of the act will enable my firm to operate in an era of stability insofar as the United States Government's position on international trade is concerned. Nothing is more frustrating to a merchant than to try and plan a sales campaign based on the sale of imported goods if there is any uncertainty that the supply of these goods will be affected by United States Government policy. A 5-year extension of the Trade Agreements Act will enable my firm and thousands of other companies selling imported products to the American home to plan with confidence to offer the American consumer increasingly attractive items from our friends abroad. Most of us are prone to discuss economic issues, such as the hardwood-plywood situation, in terms of the effects of quotas on the plywood industry or the workers in that industry. We all overlook, sometimes, the effect of legislative action on the forgotten man—the American consumer. If the American consumer wishes to buy Swiss watches or French perfume or Scotch whisky or British woolens or Japanese flush doors, he should be permitted to do so in a market which is stable and assured.
Therefore, on behalf of my business and on behalf of the American consumer, I urge you to report out H. R. 12591 without any amendments imposing import quotas on specific commodities and with the 5-year-extension provision of the bill intact.
STATEMENT OF RICHARD ENGLAND, PARTNER AND GENERAL MERCHANDISE MANAGER, HECHINGER CO., WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. England. Before beginning, I should like to amend one statement that is at the beginning of my prepared statement. It states here that I am here in support of H. K. 12591. 1 am not qualified to say that I am in full support of that measure, because I have never had an opportunity to read it, and I would prefer to state that I am here on behalf of one aspect endorsed by those supporting the bill.
Basically, I am a lumberman operating in the Greater Washington area, and I am familiar with a couple of products which I should hate to see cut off from import.
The two products concerned are lauan mahogany plywood, imported from Japan largely, and door skins, which are an integral part of a flush door and are imported from the same country.
I would like to just state a bit of personal history. I built my own home here in Washington in 1950. I became, as the result of building my own home, very interested in flush doors, which were relatively new at that time, and hardwood plywood. I did considerable research, personally, into the problem in order to be very up to date on the subject.
Senator Martin. Mr. Chairman, would you excuse me? I just got a note that they are considering the conference on the authorization of rivers and harbors, and I am one of the conferees, and I am awfully sorry, but I will read your statement with great interest.
Mr. England. Certainly. I sliall try to be as brief as I can. I should like to state that, as a result of the information I found out when I built my own home, I became very familiar with hardwood plywood. Approximately 2 or 3 years after I completed the home, around 1953 or 1954, Japanese plywood began to come into this country in fairly substantial quantities, both in the form of wallboard panels and in the form of doorskins for making flush doors.
If I had waited 4 years to build my house, I would have saved $200 or $300 on the cost of the doors alone, and I would have had something that was practically unobtainable at the time, doors made of Japanese lauan mahogany plywood, which is really something beautiful. They are sold at a price which makes them within the reach of the average American homeowner.
The end result is that cutting off the importation of the doors and the plywood would virtually raise the cost of the average American home by $50, $100, or $150, depending on the style involved.
Another interesting aspect—I am being personal, but it really is relevant—another interesting aspect of my personal experience is that I had a couple of doors left over when I built my house. I didn't know what to do with them. They were gorgeous-looking walnut doors.
I thought of the idea of finishing them and turning them into coffee tables. The legs alone cost $50 to make at that time. They were fabricated out of solid walnut.
There were no prefabricated legs available on the market anywhere in this country as far as I know at that time. We conceived the idea in our company of having legs made on a mass production basis in this country so that doors could be made into furniture, and as a result of that the idea spread, and thousands and thousands of doors are converted into tables and desks and all kinds of pieces of furniture. And the fact that lauan mahogany doors are available has made these doors available for the average consumer. Prior to 1951 or 1952 beautiful hardwood doors were a matter of luxury available only to the most wealthy.
You must understand the overall nature of our business. Doors are a very small part of our business. Mahogany plywood is a very small part of our business. But having a beautiful low-cost product such as those two represent enables us to sell a very greatly increased quantity of all sorts of products, over 99 percent of which are manufactured in this country.
I have a great many manufacturers as business friends and personal friends, and I certainly don't want to go on record as for or against the bill as such. I simply want to state that imported products such as these two products—and I have a couple here which I would like to show, Senator Byrd—are of considerable interest I believe.
Here is a panel—I haven't seen this myself. I have just returned to town. This was prepared for me in our carpentry shop.
Here is a sample of the V-groove mahogany plywood. In the section nearest me, you have the unfinished plywood as we buy it.
In the middle section is a panel finished with one coat of white firzite which is manufactured and sold by the United States Plywood Corp., and on the end is a panel finished with one coat of Satin Lac.
Those are, I think, beautifully finished, and the American public has really gone for them. We have sold tens of thousands of sheets locally in Washington. The Chairman. Was that imported?
Mr. England. Not the finishes. The plywood was; yes. This is a full 4-foot width of panel commonly used in recreation rooms.
The next exhibit is a little hard to handle. This is an actual door, and I will lift it up. I want to show you something about it. The idea that I told you about that I got for my house was getting these legs made in mass production. You see here three different styles of legs: iron, brass, and wood, and by using these and taping the edges—this door has not been taped on the edges. By using tape which is sold by the United States Plywood Corp, you get for around $15, including the price of the finish, a coffee table that, in a furniture store woidd cost maybe $50 to $100—a very beautiful piece of furniture.
I will say just this: We were very skeptical about buying both the plywood and the flush doors made of the plywood, and we went into great detail examining the quality of the glue, and so forth. The quality of these products is excellent. We have handled them for several years now, and they have really held up well and we have had practically no complaints. I don't know of any.
In the merchandising business, which I am basically in, a small amount of imported items perks up your whole business. Department stores all over the country have had great success with import 1 lire where they have featured all kinds of imported items in all departments as a sales promotion, and it has helped their sales.
Very directly, having our business better means that our several hundred employees fare better, and that directly affects the welfare of the surrounding area. The fact that these products are available