The Chairman of the Interdepartmental Committee on Trade Agreements1 (Brown)2 to President Truman 3


There are presented herewith for your approval the recommendations of the Interdepartmental Trade Agreements Committee as to the tariff concessions we should request of and offer to the seventeen nations meeting with us in Geneva on April 10 to negotiate reciprocal trade agreements. These recommendations are the result of careful study and analysis by the Trade Agreements Committee and its country subcommittees after full public hearings and consultation with technical experts of the Government and other interested organizations.

The Trade Agreements Committee recommend:

that we request foreign countries for concessions in their tariffs on products which in 1939 accounted for $1,433,000,000 of their imports from us (reductions $738,938,000 and bindings $693,556,000). These requests cover major export items such as apples, tobacco, wheat and flour, dried fruits, fruit juices, automobiles, refrigerators, office machinery, and electrical equipment, and also myriad other items of interest to both large and small businesses in the United States. A [Page 912] table showing the distribution of these requests between countries is attached. Reduction or elimination of preferences discriminating against United States exports is also requested in a very large number of cases;
that we oiler concessions on products which accounted in 1939 for $1,407,000,000 of our imports from those countries (reductions $416,000,000, and bindings $991,000,000, of which bindings $843,000,000 are on the free list).

The volume of United States trade covered by the concessions which it is recommended that we offer, and the general nature of these concessions are as follows:

Volume of Trade Covered by Proposed U.S. Offers of Tariff Concessions to the 17 Nuclear Countries*

U.S. Imports, 1939 from:
All countries total Nuclear countries Non-nuclear countries
Millions of dollars
Imports into U.S., total all products 2,208 1,449 759
A. Products upon which it is proposed to offer concessions: 1,827 1,407 420
1. Reductions in duty: 480 416 64
36–50% reduction 287 247 40
25–35% reduction 78 65 13
less than 25% reduction 115 104 11
2. Bindings: 1,347 991 356
Present duties 174 148 26
Free list 1,173 843 330
B. Products upon which it is not proposed to offer concessions 381 42 339

Of the approximately 3,500 recommendations for tariff concessions to be offered by the United States on specific products, the overwhelming majority are unanimous. In fourteen one member of the [Page 913] Committee dissented, and in three there were two dissents. Pursuant to Executive Order No. 9832, the reasons for these dissents have been formulated by the agencies involved and are attached hereto, together with a brief summary of the basis for the majority decision.4

A number of the recommendations as to tariff concessions to be offered by the United States are of crucial importance to the success of the negotiations and are also likely to give rise to vociferous objections from organized special domestic interests. The attached memorandum also refers briefly to the principal items of this character.

The success or failure of the Geneva negotiations will depend on the adequacy of the tariff concessions offered by the United States. The Trade Agreements Committee believe that the tariff concessions which it recommends can be made without likelihood of substantial injury to domestic interests, and that they represent about the minimum which we could offer and hope for a successful negotiation. Your approval of these recommendations as a basis for bargaining is therefore requested.

Winthrop G. Brown
  1. This interdepartmental committee was known as TAC. See Department of State Bulletin, March 9, 1947, p. 436.
  2. Winthrop G. Brown, Chief, Division of Commercial Policy.
  3. This memorandum was transmitted under Acting Secretary Acheson’s covering memorandum for the President, not printed, concurring in the conclusions reached by TAC (560.AL/4–247).
  4. Nuclear countries were those represented on the Preparatory Committee. [Footnote in the source text.]
  5. Binding a product means that a nation agrees not to change the current rate. Essentially this means that the present duty will not be revised upward, and represents a concession to exporting nations. [Footnote in the source text.]
  6. These attachments are filed with Acting Secretary Acheson’s covering memorandum, not printed (611.0031).