Gerald Ford on Free Trade

President of the U.S., 1974-1977; Republican Rep. (MI)


Begin trade with developing nations

An historic dialog has begun between industrial nations and developing nations. Most proposals on the table are the initiatives of the United States, including those on food, energy, technology, trade, investment, and commodities. We are well launched on this process of shaping positive and reliable economic relations between rich nations and poor nations over the long term.

We have made progress in trade negotiations and avoided protectionism during recession. We strengthened the international monetary system. During the past 2 years the free world's most important economic powers have already brought about important changes that serve both developed and developing economies. The momentum already achieved must be nurtured and strengthened, for the prosperity of the rich and poor depends upon it.

In Latin America, our relations have taken on a new maturity and a sense of common enterprise. In Africa the quest for peace, racial justice, and economic progress is at a crucial point.

Source: Pres. Ford's 1977 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 12, 1977

Suspended then reinstated grain sales to Soviets

In 1975, I made a decision that infuriated millions of American farmers. Over the past 5 years, Soviet purchases of wheat & grain from this country had been highly erratic--as opposed to the steadier demands for grain from our traditional customers, Western Europe and Japan--[and hence] had disrupted the market and contributed to price instability.

Reluctantly, I suspended the Soviet grain sales. My Administration had urged farmers to increase their production and they had responded with record yield. Here we were telling them not to sell what they had produced. They were outraged, but I didn't feel that I had any alternative. The American farmer would be far better off if we could reach a long-term understanding with the Soviets [with guaranteed tonnage] and at least 1/3 of tonnage carried in American ships. [When the Soviets agreed on both points], I lifted the grain embargo and the long-shoreman loaded grain again.

Source: A Time To Heal, by Gerald Ford, p.312-313 , Sep 9, 1975

Vetoed US-flagged oil tanker rules as too protectionist

I pocket-vetoed--by simply withholding my approval--a measure that would have had serious inflationary impacts on the economy. The Energy Transportation Security Act of 1974 was otherwise known as the "cargo preference" bill. It stipulated that 20% of all the foreign oil coming into the US had to be carried on US flag tankers. The figure would rise to 30% in 1977. Not only would that bill have increased the cost of oil and gas to the American consumer; it would have also hiked the prices of all products and services that depend on oil. Additionally, it would have served as a precedent for other countries to increase protection of their industries, and that would have posed a threat to free trade.
Source: A Time To Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald Ford, p.226 , Dec 22, 1974

Proponent of free trade, even with Japanese export pressure

I met with Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in Japan. Both of us agreed on the need to reconvene the GATT-General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-talks in Geneva as soon as possible and to bring them to a successful conclusion by 1976. Then Tanaka brought up the touchy issue of exports. He was concerned that Congress or the Executive Branch might impose new quotas upon a variety of Japanese goods. He seemed very relieved when I assured him that I had always been a proponent of free trade and that I wasn't about to alter these convictions despite obvious political pressures to which I would be subjected during a period of high unemployment at home.
Source: A Time To Heal, by Gerald Ford, p.210-211 , Nov 18, 1974

Remove import tariffs on hollow reinforcing bars

Rep. Ford sponsored H.R.4325: A bill to amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to provide for the duty-free entry of certain hollow reinforcing bars.

Congressional Summary: Provides for the duty-free entry of designated hollow reinforcing bars under the Tariff Act of 1930.

Source: Bill sponsorship archives from the Library of Congress , Feb 19, 1973

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Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
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George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022