Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Special Message to the Congress Recommending the Renewal of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act.

April 07, 1953

To the Congress of the United States:

In my State of the Union Message I recommended that "the Congress take the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act under immediate study and extend it by appropriate legislation."

I now recommend that the present Act be renewed for the period of one year.

I propose this action as an interim measure. As such, it will allow for the temporary continuation of our present trade program pending completion of a thorough and comprehensive reexamination of the economic foreign policy of the United States.

I believe that such a reexamination is imperative in order to develop more effective solutions to the international economic problems today confronting the United States and its partners in the community of free nations. It is my intention that the Executive Branch shall consult with the Congress in developing recommendations based upon the studies that will be made.

Our trade policy is only one part, although a vital part, of a larger problem. This problem embraces the need to develop, through cooperative action among the free nations, a strong and self-supporting economic system capable of providing both the military strength to deter aggression and the rising productivity that can improve living standards.

No feature of American policy is more important in this respect than the course which we set in our economic relations with other nations. The long term economic stability of the whole free world and the overriding question of world peace will be heavily influenced 'by the wisdom of our decisions. As for the United States itself, its security is fully as dependent upon the economic health and stability of the other free nations as upon their adequate military strength.

The problem is far from simple. It is a complex of many features of our foreign and domestic programs. Our domestic economic policies cast their shadows upon nations far beyond our borders. Conversely, our foreign economic policy has a direct impact upon our domestic economy. We must make a careful study of these intricate relationships in order that we may chart a sound course for the nation.

The building of a productive and strong economic system within the free world--one in which each country may better sustain itself through its own efforts--will require action by other governments, as well as by the United States, over a wide range of economic activities. These must include: adoption of sound internal policies, creation of conditions fostering international investment, assistance to underdeveloped areas, progress towards freedom of international payments and convertibility of currencies, and trade arrangements aimed at the widest possible multilateral trade.

In working toward these goals, our own trade policy as well as that of other countries should contribute to the highest possible level of trade on a basis that is profitable and equitable for all. The world must achieve an expanding trade, balanced at high levels, which will permit each nation to make its full contribution to the progress of the free world's economy and to share fully the benefits of this progress.

The solution of the free world's economic problems is a cooperative task. It is not one which the United States, however strong its leadership and however firm its dedication to these objectives, can effectively attack alone. But two truths are clear: the United States' share in this undertaking is so large as to be crucially important to its success--and its success is crucially important to the United States. This last truth applies with particular force to many of our domestic industries and especially to agriculture with its great and expanding output.

I am confident that the governments of other countries are prepared to do their part in working with us toward these common goals, and we shall from time to time be consulting with them. The extension for one year of the present Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act will provide us the time necessary to study and define a foreign economic policy which will be comprehensive, constructive and consistent with the needs both of the American economy and of American foreign policy.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Special Message to the Congress Recommending the Renewal of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231610

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