Trade in the Sixties

Throughout the 1950s, the United States dominated the world market. With the healthiest major economy to emerge from World War II, the United States forged ahead in manufacturing exports and provided the vast majority of goods consumed domestically. In 1960, the U.S. produced more than 25% of the manufactured exports of industrial nations and supplied 98% of goods in the American market. From that point on, the United States lost market share both at home and abroad. In the car manufacturing industry, for example, the U.S. was responsible for 75.7% of the world's automobile production; in 1960, the U.S. produced only 47.9% of the world market; in 1970, it was only 28.2%. Some of this loss of market share resulted from the post-war recovery of nations like Germany and Japan, which became America's fiercest competitors. American exporting firms were eager to support any initiatives that would give them greater access to overseas markets.
President Kennedy wanted to position the United States as a major player in international economic affairs. Under the leadership of Kennedy's Undersecretary of State George Ball, the United States supported European economic and political union. One important aspect of this was trade policy and the role of the United States in the globalizing economy In 1962, Congress passed the Trade Expansion Act. The act gave the president broad authority over American trade policy, especially the authority to reduce tariffs and duties in order to facilitate or stimulate trade. In addition, the act established adjustment assistance to troubled industries. After this, the Kennedy Administration launched a trade liberalization campaign called the "Kennedy Round." An international agreement was not reached until 1967, at which point the United States benefited from major tariff reductions by industrial countries for individual products. An international anti-dumping code was established, bringing about initial reductions in nontariff barriers. Despite these gains, agricultural tariffs kept American access to the European agricultural market limited.