Foreign Trade Policy

January 30, 1958

Report Outline
New Setting for Trade Agreements Battle
United States Tariff and Trade Policies
Position of United States as World Trader
New Factors in Foreign Trade Policy Debate
Special Focus

New Setting for Trade Agreements Battle

Plan to Renew U.S. Trade Act for Five Years

Whether the United States shall continue to promote ready interchange of goods among the free world's trading nations, or whether it shall remold its foreign economic policy along protectionist lines, is one of the vital questions now confronting Congress and the country. The Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, ten times renewed since it was put on the statute books in 1934, is scheduled to expire June 30, 1958. The Eisenhower Administration wants it extended for five years.

This year's debate will be marked by considerably more controversy than that attending past three-year or one-year renewals. House Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-Tex.) told reporters, after a Dec. 3 White House conference on legislative plans, that there would be “a whale of a fight.” Senate Minority Floor Leader William F. Knowland (R-Calif.) likewise foresaw a stiff contest, Jan. 21, but he predicted that the law would be extended in some form.

The administration is asking additional tariff-bargaining power in the shape of authority to reduce existing levels of duty by as much as 25 per cent—5 per cent a year—over a five-year period, or within other stated limits in the case of certain types of tariffs. Authority is being requested also to increase duties, in escape clause cases, to levels as much as 50 per cent higher than those prevailing under the Hawley-Smoot Act when the trade agreements program was initiated 24 years ago.

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