My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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DENVER —I am afraid that too few people in this country fully understand how much our present "protectionist" backsliding in our foreign trade policy is playing into the hands of Soviet Russia, which has started an economic and propaganda offensive based on it. In Italy, for instance, the Communist sympathizers have put out a slogan: "The U.S. is willing to take our sons, but not our goods."

President Eisenhower has endorsed a recent statement by the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations, which said, "We could lose this economic contest (with the Russians) unless the country as a whole wakes up to all its implications."

A most interesting fact sheet and a pamphlet called "The Returns Are In" has been issued by the Committee on Foreign Trade Education, Inc. I wish everyone could see them. The aim of this committee is to "expand public interest in the U.S. tariff trade policy and to stir broad, popular support for a liberalization of that policy."

Trade is important to goodwill and understanding among the nations of the world. Some of our leading businessmen understand this. But many of us, who have not made a careful study of trade problems, fail to realize that if we wish to sell goods to the rest of the world we must also buy goods from the rest of the world.

Countries like Great Britain and Japan are beginning to trade with Red China and Russia. They are seeking these new markets because they cannot depend on us and they do not think we understand their situation.

We are expanding our field of protective influence tremendously and our own population is growing rapidly. Both facts mean that our foreign trade must grow, also. The fact sheet before me says, "Imports and exports combined should reach well over $30 billion by the end of 1957. Even now, however, four million American families are directly dependent on foreign trade."

Those who believed in high tariffs and a system of protection for our infant industries many years ago must revise their thinking. Today we need a new kind of "protection" for a "forgotten man" who is left out in the tariff-trade fight—the consumer.

It is obvious that in making trade agreements someone always must be hurt, so one must make them in the interests of the great majority of people. It has been suggested that when any particular group really is hurt by a trade agreement with a foreign country, some adjustment can be made in that particular industry. It seems to me we have the intelligence to make these adjustments.

I think it is essential that the United States becomes a member of the Organization for Trade Cooperation this year. This is one of the moves necessary to give an efficient, day-by-day administration to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (known as GATT), which is the international trade agreement to which we and 34 other nations have belonged since 1947. Already, through GATT, the United States has received well over $7 billions worth of tariff concessions from foreign countries—which is more than the concessions we have given in return. With the help of OTC (Organization for Trade Cooperation), GATT would become even more useful to us than it has been.


(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Denver (Col., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 14, 1957

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.