Foreign Economic Policy

March 12, 1947

Report Outline
Congress and Foreign Economic Polifcy
World Trade Policies and Geneva Parley
Plan for International Trade Organization

Congress and Foreign Economic Polifcy

Key Position of Congress in World Trade Picture

Action at Geneva within the next four or five months, and at Washington within the next 15 months, will determine whether or not the principal trading nations of the world are to embark on a new and unprecedented era of economic collaboration. Substantial progress toward that objective will be recorded if the 18-nation conference scheduled to meet in Switzerland on Apr. 10 accomplishes its two assigned tasks: (1) To negotiate a multilateral reciprocal trade agreement and (2) to complete the draft charter of an International Trade Organization. However, the effective final decision on the shape of future international trade relationships will be made by the Congress of the United States.

Tariff concessions which the United States may grant in return for concessions by other nations participating in the Geneva conference can be put into effect for this country by executive action. But the United States cannot enter the projected International Trade Organization unless Congress accepts its charter, and the United States could not fulfill its commitments under the charter unless Congress renews the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, now scheduled to expire by limitation June 12, 1948, or enacts substitute legislation.

Any reduction or removal of trade barriers, effected through the tariff bargaining to be conducted at Geneva, is likely to be temporary if not buttressed by establishment of the International Trade Organization. And the active backing of the United States will be essential to the successful functioning of the I. T. O. At Waco, Tex., Mar. 6, President Truman pointed out that the United States was “the giant of the economic world,” and that “whether we like it or not the future pattern of economic relations depends upon us.” He declared that “We can lead the nations to economic peace or we can plunge them into economic war.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
International Finance
International Law and Agreements
Trade Negotiating Authority