Franklin D. Roosevelt

A Letter Forming the Executive Committee on Commercial Policy.

November 11, 1933

My dear Mr. Secretary:

It appears to me that the growing complexity of American commercial relations with foreign countries requires a new step in the systemization of the handling of these relations. This new step in systemization is dictated by two sets of circumstances:

(1) Under the Administration's program of recovery numerous departments are assigned powers or duties which directly touch upon trade relations with other countries. It is plain that the acts of each of the separate branches of the Government must be brought into a coherent policy system with the acts of all the rest.

(2) The changing policies of other Governments and the changing methods of regulating international trade greatly complicate the Government's task of proper direction of American trade.

I therefore have decided to designate one officer in the Department of State to carry the primary responsibility of supervising the international commercial policy of this Government into a coherent whole. Hereafter may I ask that you give the necessary instructions in your Department that before any acts are taken under legislation or otherwise which directly affect the export and import trade in this country, this official should be consulted concerning the action and his approval secured?

It is my idea that this official should be the chairman of an Executive Committee for the coordination of commercial policy and the negotiation of commercial treaties and trade agreements, and that in his decisions he would be very largely carrying out the judgment of the Committee. Upon this Committee your Department will be represented.

It is my further expectation that as this Committee develops its work, all subordinate interdepartmental committees engaged in the work of negotiating commercial treaties, the elaboration of trade agreements, et cetera, will report to the responsible official and through him to the governing Committee.

I also request that you instruct your Department that this official, as Chairman of the coordinating Committee, should be the regular channel of communication with all foreign Governments on all policy matters affecting American export and import trade.

The arrangements contemplated in this order will be elaborated in further directions which will be transmitted later.

I have asked Mr. Phillips, Undersecretary of State, to undertake these duties as Chairman of the coordinating Committee until such time as a permanent selection is made. Therefore, pending further notice, he will be Chairman pro tem.

Sincerely yours,

Franklin D. Roosevelt, A Letter Forming the Executive Committee on Commercial Policy. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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