A Trade Policy for the 1960s


THE savant who first observed that politics is the art of the possible said much less than seems to meet the eye. The ex ante and the ex post concepts of "the possible" are disconcertingly different. One might better say that politics is the art of enlarging the possible. And one could well add that an indispensable step in the process is to have a view of the goals beyond the possible for which one is reaching.

Our exploration of a trade policy for the 1960s, therefore, will not proceed from the premise that a democratic government is the captive of the parochial interests it represents; on that assumption, we are slated for the dinosaur's fate. Instead, our general frame of reference is this: What trade policy does the decade of the 1960s demand for survival and growth? And what could a determined President hope to achieve, at the outside, if he exploited every possibility in his position of leadership?

In the past decade or two, a deep-seated change has occurred in the traditionally protectionist views of the more highly developed countries of the world. During this period, it has been possible for the twoscore members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to cut deep into their import barriers. The Organization for European Economic Coöperation managed to implement an unprecedented Code of Trade Liberalization. A European Coal and Steel Community has been achieved and a European Economic Community and European Free Trade Area have followed.

Each of these programs constituted a minor miracle of a sort, patently impossible before it actually occurred. The fact that the miracle none the less occurred can be ascribed to various forces. One of these forces--one which can easily be underemphasized--has been the persistent advocacy by most professional economists in the advanced countries for the reduction of trade barriers and the broadening of markets. The wartime emergencies and post-war problems precipitated economists into posts of key importance, not only in the United States

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