211. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1
3995. Personal from Ambassador for President and Secretary. I am greatly disturbed by press reports of possible adoption of amendment to H.R. 1 to require President to accept Tariff Commission escape clause recommendations except when national security is involved. Such amendment would have most serious effects on relations with UK.2 It would presumably make it almost impossible for President in future to reject recommendations for duty increases on important UK manufactured products (e.g. bicycles) since most such products have little national security significance. It would certainly result in reapplications for escape clause action in most of old cases where President has rejected recommendations of Tariff Commission (e.g., lead and zinc, fish fillets, silk scarves, wood screws, scissors and shears, tobacco pipes, handblown glass ware—in most of which UK has an interest). And it would encourage flood of new applications from many other producers.
Such a result, hitting a wide range of UK exports to US, would not only have harmful economic effects in both countries but would create serious doubts among all shades of opinion in UK as to sincerity of US purpose to adopt policy of freer trade. Indeed such an amendment [Page 601] would undoubtedly be considered here as having effect of nullifying passage of H.R. 1 and of directly reversing President’s announced program. This undoubtedly would have repercussions here on a wide front. For example, it would greatly lessen prospects for sterling convertibility and dollar import liberalization. It would also affect UK’s attitude towards new GATT agreements and might change whole direction of British commercial policy.
I am sure everything possible is already being done to prevent this unfortunate action, but, in view of very real dangers involved in situation, I felt I should express my personal views.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 411.414/3–1255. Confidential.↩
- The Trade Agreements Extension Act of 1955, P.L. 84–86, 69 Stat. 162, was approved on June 21. For documentation on its effects on U.S.–U.K. trade, and the decisions to increase tariffs on British bicycles and to reject the British bid for supplying generators to the Chief Joseph Dam, see volume IX.↩