American Trade Policy: 1923-1995

By Edward S. Kaplan | Go to book overview

3
The Building of a Liberal Trade Policy

BACKGROUND TO THE RECIPROCAL TRADE AGREEMENTS

The Great Depression brought an end to the Republican domination of the presidency in 1932 with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Throughout the 1920s the Republican administrations of Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover believed in low taxes and high tariffs. Now with a Democratic president and Congress, changes in trade policy were expected as part of the Roosevelt "New Deal" program.

Cordell Hull, Tennessee congressman and member of the House Ways and Means Committee, was chosen by the new president to become secretary of state in 1933. Hull would lead the fight against high tariffs in the 1930s until his resignation in 1944. More than anyone else, Hull became the chief architect of America's new liberal trade policy. 1

Cordell Hull made his first political speech in favor of low tariffs when he supported Grover Cleveland for the presidency in 1888. Not yet seventeen in 1888, he continued to oppose high tariffs in the next century. In 1916, during the Woodrow Wilson administration, Hull viewed the tariff from an internationalist rather than a nationalist perspective. Before 1916 he saw the high tariff as only affecting the domestic economy by raising the cost of living and causing the growth of monopolies. After 1916 Hull saw low tariffs and the movement toward free trade as a means of preventing wars. He declared that if the world could have free trade, free of discrimination and obstruction, so that one country would not be jealous of others, and the living standards of all countries could rise, it could eliminate the economic dissatisfaction that breeds war, and it might have a chance for a lasting peace. 2

The Democratic National Convention in 1932 adopted Hull's version of low tariffs in its platform. Al Smith, the Democratic presidential candidate in 1928, and John J. Raskob, his friend and campaign manager that year, remained economic nationalists in favor of high tariffs. They attempted, unsuccessfully, to derail Hull's efforts in the 1932 Convention in Chicago by lining up delegates to vote against the

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American Trade Policy: 1923-1995
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Economics and Economic History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Background to the Hawley-Smoot Tariff 1
  • Notes 18
  • 2 - The Hawley-Smoot Tariff 38
  • 3 - The Building of a Liberal Trade Policy 43
  • Notes 60
  • 4 - The Trade Expansion Act and the Kennedy Round 65
  • Notes 86
  • 5 - The Trade Reform Act and the Tokyo Round 89
  • Notes 108
  • 6 - Fair Trade and the Uruguay Round 113
  • Notes 132
  • 7 - The North American Free Trade Agreement 137
  • Notes 156
  • 8 - A Return to Unilateralism 159
  • Notes 167
  • Bibliography 169
  • Index 173
  • About the Author 177
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