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Computer trade

The Western allies have reached a sensible compromise involving new export controls on the sale of computers, software, and electronic telephone equipment sold to Soviet-bloc nations.

The new standards on computers are the first since 1976. They are not as restrictive as sought by the Reagan administration. Nor are they as liberal as sought by Europe and Japan, which have a somewhat less ideological view of Moscow than does Washington.

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The new standards decontrol what are called ''non-rugged'' personal computers - the type of smaller units used at home or in offices. Meanwhile, the more rugged portable computers - the type that can be used out on the highway, or in a factory, or - here's the catch - on the battlefield are restricted from export to East-bloc nations. More sophisticated personal computers are also restricted. And some large, mainframe computers have been decontrolled. In short, a balance between national security and global trade.

While it seems only prudent to bar certain strategically linked computer products, the list should be closely limited. Opening up lines of trade and commerce is more promotive of global peace and mutuality than closing off such trade.

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