Harry S. Truman photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Foreign Economic Assistance Act.

June 05, 1950

I HAVE today signed the Foreign Economic Assistance Act of 1950. This act is a major contribution to peace and freedom in the world.

This memorable act is a tribute to the wisdom and vigor of the forward-looking Members of the Congress of both political parties, of both Houses, and particularly to the hard work of the responsible congressional committees.

The Foreign Economic Assistance Act contains within it the authority to go forward with five programs of foreign aid.

It authorizes, first, continuation of the European recovery program for a third year.

It authorizes, second, continued aid to the free peoples of Korea, southeast Asia, and non-Communist China.

It makes possible, third, a program of relief and public works for the Arab refugees from Palestine.

Fourth, it provides legislative authority for going ahead with the program of technical assistance to help build up economically underdeveloped areas, a program which has become known as "point 4."

And, finally, it authorizes continuing support for United Nations programs on behalf of children.

Each of the five programs authorized in this act will contribute to our purpose of strengthening the cause of freedom, through economic measures which will demonstrate the effectiveness of free institutions in meeting human needs.

Taken together, they add up to a broad, enlightened, and typically American enterprise in the building of a safe and prosperous world.

Four of these five programs are already underway.

In the first 2 years of the European recovery program, with our essential aid, the people of Europe have made great strides in rebuilding their economies. This has enabled them to preserve and strengthen their free institutions, and to deal successfully with the threat of communism on their own soil. They are drawing closer together in common purpose and in common defense. I am confident that this third year of our assistance will give impetus to increasing cooperation by these countries, will add greatly to their collective strength, and will bring closer the day when they can contribute on a self-sustaining basis to the economic growth of all free nations.

The benefits of American support to independent Korea, non-Communist China, and certain new countries in southeast Asia have been considerable. Millions of people in Asia have recently become independent. They see in that independence a chance to work for a better life. We have supported their independence. The economic aid authorized in this act will give them tangible evidence of our continuing friendship and support.

I am especially glad that the Congress has taken action with respect to the problem of the Arab refugees from Palestine. The program authorized in this bill carries out the recommendations of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Near East, headed by Mr. Gordon Clapp. This program has been drawn up in the light of the serious problems facing the Palestine refugees, and with the economic potential of the Near East in mind. Successful development in this area will make an obvious contribution to the maintenance of peace. To achieve this aim, we shall need the cooperation of other members of the United Nations, who have expressed their interest in the problems of the Arab world. We shall count also, on the continued work of private agencies. Government programs will supplement, but not replace, their work.

Many Americans have become familiar with the magnificent work of the United Nations on behalf of children whose lives were damaged by war and its aftermath. This act will enable us to support new and permanent arrangements, under which the United Nations can deal with the continuing needs of children. In the meantime we can give such support to the present emergency fund as may be needed to prevent a lapse in this essential work.

The major new step forward in this act is the authorization it contains for a program of technical assistance for the underdeveloped areas of the world. The exchange of technical knowledge and skills, and the fostering of capital investment abroad, are not new ideas. They are in line with the American traditions of initiative and free enterprise.

But we are now ready to put these activities on an organized, sustained basis and to direct them toward the building of a more prosperous and peaceful world. If we can, gradually but steadily, help to replace sickness with health, illiteracy with education, poverty with a higher standard of living, for the millions of peoples who live in underdeveloped areas, we shall make a tremendous contribution to the strength of freedom and the defeat of Communist imperialism.

This act will enable us to give, from our abundant store of scientific and technical knowledge, assistance to underdeveloped nations who have the initiative and vigor to help themselves.

This act authorizes activities by the Government. But far more than Government action will be required. I look forward to the continued work of the many private groups who have had experience in this field. I look forward to the interest of our young people, whose technical skills can find such important employment in this work. I look forward to expanded business investment in these areas which will be made possible as their economic systems grow in strength and stability. I hope the Congress will soon enact the companion measure to this act, which will encourage and support such business investment.

The present act is a memorable step forward in our program for peace. I am confident that the Congress will follow through promptly by appropriating the full measure of funds necessary to carry out the programs authorized in this act.

Note: The Foreign Economic Assistance Act of 1950 is Public Law 535, 81st Congress (64 Stat. 198).

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Foreign Economic Assistance Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230736

Simple Search of Our Archives