Tariffs and Trade Obstacles at the London Conference

June 12, 1933

Report Outline
Proposed Delegation of Tariff Power to the President
Problem of Trade Barriers at World Conference
Recent Tariff Policies of European Nations
American Tariff Policy and the Conference

Proposed Delegation of Tariff Power to the President

President Roosevelt is expected to send a special message to Congress before adjournment requesting authority to make limited tariff changes. Such power will be sought for the purpose of enabling the President to extend the prompt cooperation of the United States in any moves for the relaxation of tariff barriers which may be found acceptable by the American delegation at the World Monetary and Economic Conference. The power, if granted, may also be used by the Chief Executive in furtherance of Democratic proposals to promote the foreign trade of the United States through conclusion of reciprocal tariff and trade agreements with other nations.

The conference convening at London June 12 was called by the League of Nations under a resolution adopted at the Lausanne reparations conference last July. In accordance with the terms of that resolution, the following main questions have been placed on the official agenda:

Financial questions Economic Questions
Monetary and credit, policy Tariff policy
Exchange difficulties Import and export prohibitions and
The level of prices restrictions
The movement of capital Producers' agreements
In annotating the agenda for the conference the experts of the Preparatory Commission emphasized the close interconnection of the various problems. They declared that “action in the field of economic relations depends largely upon monetary and financial action, and vice versa,” and that “concerted measures in both fields are essential if progress is to be made in either.”

The Economic Conference and the Decline in World Trade

The Preparatory Commission pointed its appeal for action at London by observing that at least 30,000,000 workers were unemployed, that wholesale commodity prices had declined by one-third since October, 1929, with raw material prices off 50 to 60 per cent, that the total value of world trade in the third quarter of 1932 was only abut one-third that of the corresponding period of 1929, that the volume of goods in foreign trade had fallen by at least 25 per cent, and that national incomes had declined in many countries by more than 40 per cent. Statistics published by the Department of Commerce show that American foreign trade has declined more than that of the world as a whole. United States exports, which totaled $5,240,995,000 in 1929, amounted to only $1,617,877,000 in 1932. Imports, which totaled $4,399,361,000 in 1929, amounted to only $1,322,665,000 in 1932. The 1932 figures for both exports and imports were the lowest in over 20 years.

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