Economic Foreign Policy of the United States

By Benjamin H. Williams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX
RAW MATERIALS: THE CONTEST AGAINST RESTRICTIONS

Should Commerce in Raw Materials be Free as a Matter of Principle?--The view has been vigorously set forth in recent years that restrictions upon the export of raw materials are wrong in their nature, and that they are far more objectionable from the standpoint of international ethics than are restrictions on the importation of commodities. This position has been taken at different times by the spokesmen of such countries as Italy, which is peculiarly dependent upon others for the raw materials of its industries. Certain leaders in the United States have expressed a similar conviction. In fact, nothing more clearly stamps the United States as a nation under industrial influence than the vigorous objections to the controls of natural products which have been voiced in recent years in this country. Powerful manufacturing interests have given shape to American policy, although at times the injury to other kinds of consumers has likewise been the reason for complaint. The chief advocate of the right of American industry to obtain its raw materials without restraint has been Secretary of Commerce Hoover. The following statement is representative of his sentiment on this subject:

The world has often enough seen attempts to set up private monopolies, but it is not until recent years that we have seen governments revive a long-forgotten relic of medievalism and of war-time expediency by deliberately erecting official controls of trade in raw materials of which their nationals produce a major portion of the world's supply, and through these controls arbitrarily fixing prices to all of the hundreds of millions of other people in the world. It is this intrusion of governments into trading operations on a vast scale that raises a host of new dangers--the inevitable aftermath of any such efforts by political agencies to interfere with the normal processes of supply and demand.1

There is, however, no reason to distinguish in principle between restrictions on the export of commodities and restrictions on

____________________
1
"Hearings on Crude Rubber, Coffee, Etc.," p. 2.

-376-

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