Foreign Trade Policy of the United States

June 11, 1935

Report Outline
N. R. A. Decision and Conflict in Foreign Trade Policy
Administration Measures to Promote Foreign Trade
Recent Course of Foreign Trade of United States
Roosevelt Administration's Views on Trade Policy
Special Focus

N. R. A. Decision and Conflict in Foreign Trade Policy

New Emphasis may be placed upon the Roosevelt administration's efforts to expand the foreign trade of the United States as an indirect result of the Supreme Court's decision of May 27, 1935, in the Schechter case. In so far as domestic trade, industry, and agriculture may be injured through abandonment of the code system, and through possible modification of the agricultural adjustment program in the light of the Schechter decision, of so much greater moment will be the endeavor to enlarge the country's foreign commerce. But of greater significance is the fact that the curbs placed on the domestic recovery program by the Supreme Court tend to dissolve the fundamental conflict in administration policies represented by the attempt to revive foreign trade while raising domestic prices and curtailing production regardless of competitive world conditions. President Roosevelt's decision to attack the problem of recovery primarily from a nationalistic standpoint led inevitably to subordination of the foreign-trade program. Modification of the domestic recovery methods pursued to date should in turn permit more vigorous prosecution of a foreign-trade policy depending for full success upon an international approach.

The administration definitely cast its lot with the proponents of a nationalistic policy two years ago this summer, when the President, refusing to cooperate in efforts to achieve the early stabilization of currencies, sent to London the message which resulted ultimately in the breaking up of the World Monetary and Economic Conference. Conflict was then plainly evident between the views of the President and those of Secretary of State Hull, chairman of the American delegation. While Secretary Hull was accorded the support of the President in subsequent initiation of a reciprocal foreign-trade policy, further intra-administration conflict developed through appointment of George N. Peek as Special Adviser to the President on Foreign Trade. Peek's views on the question differed sharply at certain points with those of the Secretary of State.

This conflict also has been brought to a close as an indirect result of the Schechter decision, the President having announced on June 4 that the Office of Special Adviser on Foreign Trade, created by executive order under the authority of N. I. R. A., would go out of existence when the act expires on June 16. Although an attempt has been made in certain quarters to cast doubt on the constitutionality of the delegation of tariff-making authority contained in the act of June 12, 1934, under which the present trade-agreements program is being carried out, the administration has admitted no apprehension on this score.

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