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Statement by the President Upon Signing the Trade Agreements Extension Act.

June 26, 1948

I HAVE today signed H.R. 6556, the Trade Agreements Extension Act of 1948. Unfortunately, this act extends for only 1 year the authority to enter into reciprocal trade agreements. It also makes unwise changes in the procedure for negotiating such agreements.

I regret very much that the Congress has not seen fit to renew this authority for the customary 3-year period. There is no valid reason for a 1-year limitation, which appears to cast some doubt upon our intentions for the future.

Moreover, the act prescribes a new, complicated, time-consuming, and unnecessary procedure for the negotiation of reciprocal trade agreements. This change in procedure will necessarily hamper and obstruct the negotiation of new agreements, a defect which is particularly undesirable in view of the act's limitation to a single year.

The reciprocal trade agreements program has long occupied a key position in our foreign policy and in our endeavors to assist world recovery. As I pointed out in a special message to the Congress last March, the program is a tested and practical means for achieving the benefits of expanding world commerce for the United States and other countries and a continuing evidence of the determination of the United States to contribute its full share to the reconstruction of a sound and growing world economy as a basis for enduring world peace.

As part of the European recovery program, the participating countries have agreed to work together to lower barriers to trade. The United States can surely do no less than show its determination to support the same principle, which is so important to an expansion of world markets and world trade.

It is so essential that the reciprocal trade agreements program should not lapse, that I have signed this act in spite of its serious defects.

I will do my best to make the new procedures work. As a first step, I intend to proceed in the near future with plans for bringing other countries into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade signed with 22 countries at Geneva in October, 1947.

The reciprocal trade agreements program is one of high national policy. When the act is again extended next year, I trust that the defects contained in this year's extension will be corrected, in order that the act will be restored as a fully effective instrument of permanent United States policy.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 6556 is Public Law 792, Both Congress (62 Stat. 1053).

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Trade Agreements Extension Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232601

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