Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks at the 40th Anniversary Meeting of the International Chamber of Commerce.

April 23, 1959

Mr. President, Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:

First let me express the hope--and the conviction that this great meeting, the 40th anniversary of the International Chamber of Commerce, has been a useful and rewarding experience for every one of you. I am quite sure it is going to have some interest for some of you. Just seeing this panel makes me think I have got a lot of questions I would like to ask. I'm sorry I'm not so privileged. Now glancing at the scope and searching character of your program and at the names of the men who have taken part indicates that it could scarcely have been otherwise.

The coming together, anywhere, of businessmen from more than 50 countries--men of high competence and common purpose--must surely benefit them all. It proves again that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. That this Congress should have taken place in the United States is a circumstance of which I and all my countrymen are proud indeed. We trust you have sensed the warmth and sincerity of your welcome here.

Some of you perhaps are visiting us for the first time. Others are old friends. In either case, while you are here, we want you to see all you can of our country because in gaining an understanding of a region and its people there is no substitute for personal visitation and observation. You will not be pleased with everything you see. Neither are we. But you will see us as we are; you will form your own opinions, and you will gain in knowledge and in understanding. Along this road--and it is of course a two-way road--lies international understanding and the hope for peace.

The theme of this Seventeenth Biennial Congress--"Today's Challenge to Businessmen--Their Responsibilities in Domestic and World Affairs"--'is of universal interest. Probably every one of the subjects you have considered so carefully in your sessions is also a concern of governments. Sound money, high employment, rising standards of living, the movement and marketing of goods and services--all these and more present problems that face both men-of-business and men-of-government. And I break no government security when I say we hope that businessmen will come up with some of the solutions.

Your actions, your discussions, your decisions--not only in this Congress but more importantly in your day-to-day commerce with each other--hold the free world's hope for progress toward greater unity and firmer mutual strength. For our strength must come from growth. Perhaps you will permit me to repeat to you what I said to another group meeting here in Washington just 10 days ago. I said:

"The free nations urgently need economic growth and the free communication of ideas .... We are challenged to prove that any nation wherever it is--whatever its strength--can prosper in freedom; that slavery is not necessary to economic growth even in the atmosphere of a global cold war of conflicting ideologies.

"We will have to show that people do not need to choose between freedom and bread; they can earn both through their own efforts. We must prove that in providing for man's material needs, private enterprise is infinitely superior to Communist state capitalism."

So I believe that this is today's challenge to businessmen: the challenge to prove that the free market economy which the International Chamber of Commerce has championed so long and so well can out-produce any other kind of economy known to man.

Since the days of Marco Polo, the march of civilization has tramped down the trade routes of the world. Commerce between peoples moves more than products. It distributes ideas and technologies. It develops mutual understandings, and cooperative efforts toward common goals.

And never has this been truer than it is today. The old saying was that "trade follows the flag." Today, in a very definite way, "the flag follows trade." But the flag of which I speak is an international banner, that of freedom and peace.

As you return home from these meetings to plunge once again into your business activities, I trust that you will hold firmly in your programs and policies to the basic thought that the trade routes of international commerce are also the paths to peace.

Thank you--good fortune, and goodby.

Note: The President spoke at the Sheraton-Park Hotel, Washington, D.C. His opening words "Mr. President, Mr. Chairman" referred to Edmond G. d'Estaing, President of the International Chamber of Commerce, and Philip Cortney, Chairman of the U.S. Council of the International Chamber of Commerce.

The panel to which the President referred consisted of 11 Members of Congress who had been invited to answer questions submitted by the national committees of the International Chamber of Commerce concerning U.S. tariffs, U.S. foreign economic policy, and related matters.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at the 40th Anniversary Meeting of the International Chamber of Commerce. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235536

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