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American History Trade Agreements

An important milestone for the United States between World War I and World War II was also one of the most controversial measures in its history: the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930. In the wake of the 1929 stock market crash and in the midst of an American agricultural crisis, Smoot-Hawley imposed “a huge number of tariffs on a wide range of goods, all in the hope of protecting the domestic industry from foreign competition at a time of intense price wars,” said Stephen Mihm, associate history professor at the University of Georgia. The United States refused to participate in this 19th-century European network of trade agreements and instead decided to negotiate its own reciprocal and privileged bilateral agreements. Pressure, including trade competition between nations and a global depression from 1873 to 1877, spurred protectionism. A series of isolated trade wars broke out. “Although trade flows increased further during this period, the dynamics of establishing a network of trade rules and institutions were clearly lost following the outbreak of the First World War in 1914,” the WTO report says. Trade regulation is conferred by the Constitution on the United States Congress. After the Great Depression, the country became one of the world`s leading trade policy leaders and is now a partner in a series of international trade agreements, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). At the end of 2006, the gross wealth of foreigners amounted to $16.3 trillion (more than 100% of GDP).

Following a wave of trade agreements in recent years, nearly 300 bilateral and regional agreements were in force around the world by mid-2018, in addition to WTO agreements between 164 nations. At the same time, new trade agreements have been negotiated, long-standing agreements have been renegotiated and established world trade conventions have been publicly challenged. “The fears of this uncertainty are particularly acute for the global business community, as many companies depend on global value chains vulnerable to new trade barriers,” said CCI. And despite progress over time, the ICC Open Markets Index 2017 gave an average score of only 3.6 out of 6 (of which 6 is the most open) for a group of 75 countries. (The United States also reached a 3.6.) The president`s negotiating power was initially limited to bilateral agreements with foreign nations. But after World War II, amid the desire to integrate and rebuild the post-war economy, the United States led the creation of the General Multilateral Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, known as GATT. Under their aegis, the major nations of world trade have concluded a series of “cycles” aimed at further reducing trade barriers.