Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Limiting Duty-Free Imports by Tourists.
ON FEBRUARY 10th of this year I proposed a 10-point program to help deal with the deficit in our balance of payments that measured $3.1 billion in 1964. Congress has differed with my recommendations only in an area involving 1.3 percent of that deficit which we are attempting to close. The administration proposed limiting to $50 retail value the amount tourists could bring back duty-free. Congress felt this amount should be $100 retail value instead of the present $100 wholesale value. This change represents a fair and reasonable adjustment on a relatively minor part of the overall program and still gives a $60 million assist to the balance of payments problem.
This legislation is important because it assures that we will continue to benefit from the continuation of previous reductions in the duty-free exemption.
In addition, it will provide new savings in our balance of payments of about $60 million a year--more than half of the amount we originally sought.
Had Congress failed to pass this measure, we would have had losses, not gains. This may seem like a small step forward. I believe it is significant because it reflects a strong determination by our Government and this Nation to eliminate our balance of payments deficit.
With the help of this measure, and all the other measures large and small that we have taken, and that we will take, I am sure we will achieve our goal.
Thanks in good part to that program, and thanks also to the voluntary cooperation of the business and financial community of this Nation, we have made substantial progress toward that goal since February 10th.
I am confident that this voluntary cooperation will continue to be given, and will continue to be effective.
I am equally confident that both management and labor will continue the responsible conduct which they have shown in recent years in protecting our Nation from inflationary wage and price increases, thus insuring not only our domestic economic gains, but also helping to keep our export trade strong and healthy.
We have made substantial economic progress both at home and abroad.
I have every confidence that we will continue to make economic progress--both at home and abroad.
In this way we will continue to keep the dollar strong throughout the world and to provide a better life and greater opportunity for all Americans.
Note: As enacted, the bill (H.R. 8147) is Public Law 89-62 (79 Stat. 208).
For the President's message to Congress on international balance of payments, see Item 60.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Limiting Duty-Free Imports by Tourists. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/241640