American Trade Policy: 1923-1995

By Edward S. Kaplan | Go to book overview

5
The Trade Reform Act and the Tokyo Round

THE TRADE REFORM ACT OF 1974

Between the end of the Kennedy Round in 1967 and December 1974, when the Trade Reform Act was passed, protectionist sentiment was gaining popularity in the Congress. Both the farmers and labor unions were generally unhappy with some of the Kennedy Round provisions. The farmers complained that both European and Japanese markets remained closed to many of their agricultural products, and labor protectionists, led by the AFL-CIO, lamented that imports caused high unemloyment. The trade adjustment assistance program, part of the Trade Expansion Act, did nothing to help American workers because the rules to qualify for assistance were too stringent. In fact, not a single worker or firm met the requirements for help during the entire 1960s. 1

President Richard Nixon, viewed by many as a conservative on many social and economic issues, was opposed to the protectionist sentiment that began to take root in Congress. On April 10, 1973, he challenged the Congress by sending it a comprehensive Trade Reform Act, calling for the most important changes in more than a decade in the U.S. approach to world trade. Nixon declared that the main purpose of the bill was to reduce the economic conflicts that undermined peace and stability in the world by expanding trade and prosperity for the United States and its trading partners. 2

The bill would give the president more power over trade policy than any other president before him had had. Nixon asked for the following: (1) He wanted unlimited authority to raise, lower, or eliminate tariff duties on imports as well as to use a variety of techniques to reduce U.S. nontariff barriers in return for similar foreign actions, with either house of Congress having the right to veto the final result. (2) He called for new and more rapid procedures to help domestic industries damaged by increasing imports. Under the previous escape-clause law in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, to get protection, an industry had to demonstrate that higher imports were the major cause of injury or threat of injury. This act would eliminate the causal link between increased imports and concessions and would require that

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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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