Franklin D. Roosevelt

Statement on Signing the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Bill.

April 12, 1940

The action of the Congress in continuing the operation of the trade agreements program is expressive of the determination on the part of our people to retain unimpaired, for the next three years, this powerful instrument for promoting our national economic well-being and for strengthening the foundations of stable peace.

I was very glad that, in the course of extended hearings and exhaustive debate, the Congress subjected to a most thorough examination the objectives and the underlying principles of the program, the results of its operation over nearly six years, and the procedures used to achieve these results. The facts brought out by that searching scrutiny should leave no room for doubt in the mind of any fair-minded person that the trade agreements program has brought demonstrable benefits to our nation as a whole and to every interest directly concerned, and has not inflicted injury on any group of producers.

What was particularly striking was that, in the absence of any proof of actual injury, much of the opposition seemed to be based on unwarranted fears as to what might happen in the future. There is nothing more destructive of public welfare than the conjuring up of groundless fears for the sole purpose of discrediting a constructive policy which is invulnerable to attack on any legitimate basis.

The record of the trade agreements program is in large measure the result of the procedure which has been employed. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the formulation and negotiation of the agreements, down to the smallest details, involves the cooperative effort of the Secretaries of State, Agriculture, Commerce and the Treasury and of responsible officials of their respective Departments, as well as of the United States Tariff Commission and, as occasion warrants, of other appropriate agencies of the Government. Each of these agencies contributes its specialized knowledge and judgment to the work. For example, all questions relating to agriculture are passed upon by the Department of Agriculture. Hearings before the Committee for Reciprocity Information afford an opportunity for all interested parties to present their views, which are given the most careful consideration.

Under this procedure, all recommendations made to me with regard to trade agreements represent the collective judgment of all agencies of the Government concerned with any phase of the matter, based upon most painstaking study of all pertinent information. I have never known an example of more effective collaboration among the various divisions of the Government and between the Government and the general public for the good of the entire nation.

Needless to say, this procedure which has worked so well in the past should be continued in the future.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Statement on Signing the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives