American Trade Policy: 1923-1995

American Trade Policy: 1923-1995

American Trade Policy: 1923-1995

American Trade Policy: 1923-1995

Excerpt

The Clinton administration's trade policy in the 1990s appears more protectionist oriented than that of any other president since Herbert Hoover more than sixty-five years ago. Clinton's U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor has threatened any country that practices unfair trade with trade sanctions in the form of 100 percent tariff increases that would assure that the foreign goods affected will be unsalable in the United States. Japan, in the spring of 1995, already has been chosen as a Clinton administration target, and the Japanese trade officials have complained bitterly to the new World Trade Organization (WTO), the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that the United States is practicing managed trade. Both the European Union (EU) and the Japanese government have declared that U.S. trade policy in 1995 has come full circle since the protectionist 1920s.

It is the purpose of this book to trace the history of American trade policy beginning in 1923 and concluding in 1995 and to show how that policy has evolved. Beginning in the 1920s, during the administrations of Republican presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, the United States maintained a system of high protective tariffs as witnessed by both the Fordney-McCumber and the Hawley-Smoot tariffs in 1922 and 1930, respectively. However, protectionism was denounced with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt to the presidency in 1932 and his appointment of Cordell Hull as secretary of state. Congress passed the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act in 1934, authorizing the reduction of tariff rates up to 50 percent by means of bilateral trade agreements with foreign nations. These agreements contained an unconditional most-favored-nation clause so that all concessions made by either party to third countries would freely apply to the trade of the other party to an agreement.

After World War II the United States became part of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, a liberal, multilateral system of world trade. The American government worked with foreign nations to accord nondiscriminatory most-favored- nation treatment to all other members with respect to import and export duties . . .

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