Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1980-1981

Author: Jimmy Carter  | Date: August 18, 1980

Trade Agreements Program for 1979
Message to the Congress Transmitting a Report.
August 18, 1980

To the Congress of the United States:

In accordance with Section 163 of the Trade Act of 1974, I am pleased to submit herewith the Twenty-Fourth Annual Report on the Trade Agreements Program—1979. This Report also complies with provisions of Section 135(i) of the 1974 Act, as well as Section 304d(3) of the Trade Agreements Act of 1979.

The highlights of last year’s activities were the conclusion of the Tokyo Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTN); the passage by the Congress of the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, which implemented the MTN agreements for the United States; and the reorganization of governmental trade responsibilities. In arriving at a successful completion of these negotiations, we benefitted from the interest and cooperation of many Members and committees of Congress, as well as of advisors from the private sector.

The Tokyo Round agreements establish strict new codes covering international trade, reductions of barriers to agricultural trade, and tariff reductions on industrial goods. These actions achieve our principal objective—a fairer and more open trading system that will benefit U.S. citizens.

By adopting these new codes, our major trading partners have agreed to limit the use of major nontariff measures that distort international trade. The negotiated agreements that deal with subsidies, dumping, product standards, customs valuation, licensing and government procurement will open up foreign markets to our domestic industries and exporters.Additional agreements were negotiated in the areas of agricultural trade, industrial tariffs, and civil aircraft, providing important future economic benefits to the United States through expanded exports. Also of great value are the modernized procedures for handling trade disputes under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade that were negotiated in the Tokyo Round.

Most agreements entered into force at the beginning of 1980. The rest will become effective by January 1, 1981. The initial reductions in tariff rates made by the United States and its trade partners took effect on January 1, 1980. The full tariff reductions will be phased in over an eight-year period. Our tariff reductions will benefit consumers and have a desirable anti-inflationary impact, while the reductions by our trade partners will benefit our workers, farmers and businesses.

As a result of the successful conclusion of the most far-reaching and comprehensive multilateral trade negotiations ever held, the United States enters the decade of the 1980’s with greatly expanded opportunities to strengthen its international trade performance. In order to take full advantage of these opportunities and to strengthen U.S. export performance, I have restructured Executive Branch responsibilities for international trade activities. This reorganization consolidates trade policy leadership and all trade negotiation responsibilities in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, formerly the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations. The reorganization also places the responsibility for the administration of trade programs, including export promotion, in the Department of Commerce.

I have instituted these changes in order to meet our current and future global economic and trade challenges. My Administration places a high priority on assuring that the full trade potential of the U.S. is realized, in order to maintain and improve the economic health of our nation. Approximately 17 percent of all goods produced in this country are exported. The agricultural produce of one out of every three acres of U.S. farmland is shipped to foreign countries, and approximately one out of every eight manufacturing jobs is directly or indirectly related to U.S. exports.

We made great progress in improving our international trade position last year. Our merchandise exports grew by 26 percent in 1979, our trade balance in manufactures improved by more than $10 billion, and our traditional agricultural surplus grew by 24 percent to more than $18 billion. Our trade deficit was reduced by almost $4 billion despite rapidly rising oil prices that substantially increased the value of our petroleum imports.

Further enhancement of United States exports is a prime objective of my Administration and I will continue my efforts to ensure that government programs help achieve that end. I look forward in the coming year to working with Congress in strengthening our foreign trade performance, and to reporting to you further successes in our international trade program.

The White House,
August 18, 1980.

NOTE: The report is entitled "Twenty-Fourth Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Program-1979" (Government Printing Office, 191 pages).