Courtesy Reuters

Foreign Trade and Postwar Stability

WHEN fighting stops in Europe, steps will have to be taken at once to prevent starvation and to provide tools, machines, buildings, seeds and even breeding animals so that production may be quickly restored. This will require that goods move promptly and in large quantities. The long-run economic interest of most countries also requires that conditions be favorable to international trade. Many countries base one-third or more of their economy on sending goods abroad and getting other goods in return. These countries can obtain a high standard of living only through a large volume of foreign trade. Furthermore, an economy in which new sources of goods readily come into competition with old sources, whether domestic or foreign, will be more dynamic and progressive than one in which old sources of supply are sheltered from the new.

The problem which will confront the world after the war, however, will not primarily be that of reopening old channels of trade and reëstablishing old trade relationships. Nations which were creditors before the war (Britain, for example) will be debtors after it ends; nations which were debtors (India and some South American countries) will be creditors. The distribution of industry will be changed and technological discoveries made during the war promise still further redistribution of industry. Both the needs of nations for foreign exchange and their ability to earn it will be greatly altered. The economies of the world, therefore, will be confronted with the problem of adjusting themselves as smoothly as possible to radically changed conditions. These adjustments will take the form partly of setting new restrictions on trade, either to protect new industries or to conserve supplies of foreign exchange, and partly of encouraging the expansion of trade.

A variety of questions involving the responsibilities and the interests of the United States arise in connection with these adjustments. Is it important to us that adjustments be made by encouraging expansion rather than by imposing new restrictions? To what extent will the form

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