Courtesy Reuters

New Complications in Commercial Policy

IT MAY be that the multi-colored globes that stand in schoolrooms are still found. Out of established habit statesmen may still make declarations in terms of the whole collection or community of nations. It is possible that the inter-governmental machinery at Geneva, called the League of Nations, can repair its broken lines and dramatically bring back into the circle of consultation the important countries now missing. But for the passing day, at least, in all the realms of actuality which make up contemporary history, the world is becoming increasingly divided. A system and conception of general relationship and common rule that in the economic and financial sphere came into existence before the Great War, and in the political sphere was striving to be born after the war, is speedily being lost in a scheme of relationships more segmented than has existed in the experience of living man.

The system to which the nations seem to be turning as the depression completes its fifth year has two outstanding tendencies:

First, international commercial and financial affairs are being increasingly subjected to and made dependent upon the will of governments. The exchange of goods and the payment therefor, the operation of international private finance and the fate of investors in foreign securities, are becoming increasingly tangled in and directed by government action and arrangements between governments.

Second, governments are dealing with each other (and thereby controlling the dealings of their citizens with each other) less and less in accord with the terms of a generally impartial relationship, and more and more in accordance with the terms of infinitely varied and specialized bilateral agreements. Contracts, treaties, and traditions of international law, providing for equality or identity of treatment, are being discarded. By pairs, as in some involved dance in which no one seems to know the music or to be certain of his partner, each country seems driven by necessity to move.

These generalizations require explanation. International commerce has always been extensively controlled by governments,

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