American Trade Policy: 1923-1995

By Edward S. Kaplan | Go to book overview

4
The Trade Expansion Act and the Kennedy Round

THE TRADE EXPANSION ACT

The Trade Expansion Act was a direct response to the growing power and influence of the European Economic Community, now called the European Union. President Kennedy wanted the power to negotiate with the EU to reduce trade barriers in a way that would allow the United States to sell in the European market on equitable terms. In order to accomplish his goal, Kennedy had to persuade the Congress to give him the power to abolish the item-by-item negotiations method established in the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act in 1934 and to utilize the EU method of across-the-board negotiations, better known as the linear method, that was explained in the previous chapter. The president stressed that the United States had to take the lead in world trade. He declared that "the United States did not rise to greatness by waiting for others to lead." 1

The groundwork for the Trade Expansion Act began on November 1, 1961, when two strong appeals were made for a new trade program. Former Secretary of State Christian Herter of the Eisenhower administration and William Clayton, an early administrator of the RTA program, spoke before the Foreign Economic Policy Subcommittee of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. They described how current U.S. trade policy was outdated and of the inadequacy of the RTA program. They suggested that the United States open negotiations for a trade partnership with the EU. On the same day George Ball, soon to be under secretary of state for economic affairs, spoke before the National Foreign Trade Convention in New York warning of the polarization of the American and European industrial markets. According to Ball, it was in the best interests of the United States to negotiate tariff reductions with the EU, and a new trade law was needed to accomplish this goal. The Ball speech tested public reaction to a new trade initiative with positive results. On November 29 the president indicated that he was working on a new trade law to give him the power to make major reductions in tariff rates. 2

On January 1, 1962, Kennedy spoke in Palm Beach, Florida, but said little about his liberal trade program. He briefly talked about the rapid growth of the EU

-65-

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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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