Opening America's Market: U. S. Foreign Trade Policy since 1776

By Alfred E. Eckes Jr. | Go to book overview

[T]oward 1916 I embraced the philosophy I carried throughout my twelve years as Secretary of State. . . . From then on, to me, unhampered trade dovetailed with peace; high tariffs, trade barriers, and unfair economic competition, with war. -- Cordell Hull

[T]he Americans have put more into G.A.T.T., and got less out of it, than any of the other big trading countries. . . . by and large the Americans have kept their doors wide open to our trade (and at a time when they might have urged that we were shutting out their goods by quotas long after we were genuinely short of dollars to pay for them). -- Reginald Maudling


5
Cordell Hull's Tariff Revolution

A revolution occurred in U.S. trade policy during the thirty years from 1930 to 1960. This country abandoned the nationalistic "American System" of protective tariffs, erected after the War of 1812, and removed the tariff levee that had sheltered a vast continental market from import competition. The average tariff on dutiable items fell from a peak near 60 percent equivalent in 1932 to 12 percent in 1960. Along with reducing rates the United States made another important concession. It bound existing duties against future increases.1

By 1960 the United States was no longer an impregnable commercial fortress but the world's largest and most inviting target of commercial opportunity for foreign producers. Most of America's trading partners had substantially higher tariff levels. More important, they maintained various quantitative and exchange restrictions on imports from the dollar bloc and Japan. In effect, the United States was the only major market open to world trade.2 This was not accidental. From the Civil War to the 1930s, Congress guarded the domestic market, sheltering the high-wage U.S. workers and high-cost domestic producers market from cheaper foreign competitors. During the 1930s, after low-tariff

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Opening America's Market: U. S. Foreign Trade Policy since 1776
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Free Trade and Economic Security, 1776-1860 1
  • 2 - Protection and Prosperity? 28
  • 3 - Unreciprocal Trade 59
  • 4 - Infamous Smoot-Hawley 100
  • 5 - Cordell Hull's Tariff Revolution 140
  • 6 - Opening America's Market, 1960-1974 178
  • 7 - Illusive Safeguards 219
  • 8 - Curbing Executive Discretion in Unfair Trade Cases 257
  • Epilogue 278
  • Notes 291
  • Bibliography 349
  • Index 383
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