Protectionism: Trade Policy in Democratic Societies

By Jan Tumlir | Go to book overview

danger always exists, of course, but the safeguards we have built against it are formidable, as the Bricker Amendment debate of the 1950s has shown. Given this background, Congress's bland unconcern about the practice of economic management by perpetual negotiation is striking. These negotiations continuously create precedents that, too, have binding, legal, power. Individually, they may be innocuous, but in their slow accretion they are congealing into extensive arrangements, systems of reciprocal commitments and expected practices that may be as difficult to modify or to repeal as a formal treaty. They are changing national law and it can be strongly argued that they are changing it against the grain of our constitutional philosophy. We have seen, however, that these negotiations often enable congressional minorities and industry to obtain political results in support of which a majority would be unwilling to go on record. This short-term political convenience seems to be the best explanation of congressional acquiescence.


Notes
1.
It seems to have developed from a still earlier precedent, the "gentlemen's agreement" negotiated between the U.S. and Japanese governments after the openly and insultingly discriminatory measures taken in California against residents of Japanese origin in 1905 and 1907. Under the agreement, the Japanese government voluntarily restricted and controlled emigration to the United States.
2.
An American commercial diplomat told the author the following story. He was in a Southeast Asian country to negotiate a textile and clothing restraint, an arduous negotiation that took more than a week. One evening a visitor who was waiting for him in his hotel introduced himself as the president of the local plywood manufacturers association. His industry was undergoing a crisis. It had been, only a few years ago, a highly profitable industry. The profits, however, attracted a number of new firms into the industry, and these new fellows had no sense of discipline and solidarity, were undercutting prices, and generally ruining the industry. There was only one way of saving it, and that is why his colleagues sent him to see the American diplomat: to find out how one applies for a self restraint in Washington.
3.
For details on the negotiations of textile and clothing restraints with Southeast Asia, see David B. Yoffie, Power and Protectionism ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), pp. 123-58.
4.
"Japan-United States: Orderly Marketing Agreement for Japanese Color Television Receivers," in International Legal Materials: Current Documents, vol. 16, no. 3 ( May 1977), p. 641.
5.
Wall Street Journal ( European ed. April 29, 1985).
6.
European Report, November 18, 1983.
7.
R. N. Cooper, A Re-Ordered World (Washington: Potomac Associates, 1973), p. 47.

-55-

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Protectionism: Trade Policy in Democratic Societies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Foreword v
  • Jan Tumlir - August 18, 1926-June 22, 1985 vii
  • 1 - The Economic and Political Aspects of Protection 1
  • 2 - The Historical Aspects of Protection 19
  • Notes 36
  • 3 - The New Protectionism 38
  • Notes 55
  • 4 - A Systemic Solution 56
  • Notes 72
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