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EXTENSION OF RECIPROCAL TRADE AGREEMENTS ACT
THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 1943
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The committee reconvened at 10 a. m., Hon. Robert L. Doughton (chairman) presiding.
STATEMENT OF MRS. HARVEY W. WILEY, CHAIRMAN, LEGISLA
TION DEPARTMENT, GENERAL FEDERATION OF WOMEN'S CLUBS
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will please be in order.
The first witness this morning is Mrs. Harvey W. Wiley, General Federation of Women's Clubs, Washington, D. C.
Please give your name, address, and the capacity in which you appear.
Mrs. WILEY. I am Mrs. Harvey W. Wiley, chairman of the legislation department of the General Federation of Women's Clubs.
I represent the General Federation of Women's Clubs, an organization of two and one-half million women in 16,500 clubs throughout the United States and 26 foreign clubs, and 4 Territories.
I wish to say here I realize that the main value of my testimony is that I represent a large number of intelligent and thinking women, and we do not arrive at our conclusions hastily. The policy is to have forums over the country. Much literature has been sent out. The vote by the Federation on trade-agreements program was not unanimous. I represent a very large constituency.
The General Federation of Women's Clubs at its convention in Kansas City in 1938 adopted a resolution supporting the principle of the Hull reciprocal trade agreements. I read the resolution:
Whereas one of the principal causes of war is economic maladjustment; and
Whereas measures tending to increase world trade and prosperity are essential to world peace: Therefore be it
Resolved, That the General Federation of Women's Clubs in convention assembled, May 1938, endorse the principle of the Hull reciprocal trade agreements.
This resolution was reaffirmed at the general federation's board meeting held in Washington, D. C., January 1940.
The women of the General Federation of Women's Clubs have been convinced that the reciprocal trade agreements program, created in 1934 to meet an emergency situation, has proved its worth in the past decade by the irrefutable proof of facts and figures. We understand that a greater percentage of increase of exports from the United States to trade-agreement countries than to non-trade-agreement countries has been the result of the act about to expire. That this program proved of value during a period of depression from 1934 to 1940 is significant.
With even more difficult times ahead, federated club women would be reluctant to interrupt a program which will help to maintain our American standard of living, because a greater volume of American exports means domestic employment and greater purchasing power for our people in agriculture, industry, and commerce.
Our national president, Mrs. John L. Whitehurst, has said: We believe that these agreements arrived at after the most careful collaboration by the best minds in our Departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce, and the Treasury make for unity of purpose and accomplishment. A lasting peace can come only when men and women in all countries are able to approach their common problems from an international standpoint, not from a purely selfish one. To exchange the fruits of the labor of one country with the fruits of.the labor of another country on a basis of mutual benefit is what the world longs for. No nation is or can be self-sufficient. The good of one nation is the good of all-just as it is with individuals. When trade between nations is reduced or destroyed, dislocation follows, living standards are lowered, poverty and bitterness follow, and wars threaten. The reciprocal trade agreements program, we believe, moves in the opposite direction, toward prosperity, here and elsewhere, thereby helping to lay a firm foundation for a reliable and enduring peace, which is the greatest longing in the heart of every woman.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Wiley, will you tell us something of the membership of your organization and the extent to which it functions?
Mrs. Wiley. We have a federation, Mr. Chairman, in every State, with a president and a set of officers. We have in every village, town, and city throughout the country many clubs, forming the 16,500 clubs. Each one of those clubs is on a representative basis, with a president and a set of officers. They all meet periodically. Then we have a convention once a year, and the representation is similar to that of the Congress. One delegate for so many hundred women goes to the convention.
The resolutions which are brought before the federation are submitted to every club 60 days before the convention.
The headquarters here in Washington sends out thousands of pieces of literature throughout the country. We have an official organ called The Club Woman, which gives out information.
Every club federation has its own official organ, and to my mind it is the best organized-of course, naturally I am proud of my organization--and best informed group of women in the country, because a system of forums is encouraged here from Washington.
Speakers go out, or they did before the war, to the clubs throughout the country, and every effort is made to have a free and full discussion before the women of every important issue that comes before us.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know to what extent this matter has been considered by the different clubs throughout the country and if it has the approval of the clubs in the various States of the Union ?
Mrs. WILEY. The vote in 1938 was for this Hull reciprocal-trade policy, and it was reendorsed in 1940, so that two actions have been taken by the representatives from women all over the country.
The CHAIRMAN. You have heard nothing to the contrary, so far as the proposal to extend the life of the reciprocal trade agreements is concerned
Mrs. WILEY. As I said, no vote is ever unanimous. I do not have the number of votes against. I can get it for you. We are like the gentlemen in Congress. We are not unanimous on anything. There was some opposition. The vote of the majority was for the Hull reciprocal-trade policy in both 1938 and in 1940.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Reed, have you any questions?
Mrs. Wiley. Yes. I will be very glad to. - Mr. Reed. Your organization approves of the various reciprocaltrade agreements that lowered the tariff on rum, gin, brandy, bitters, champagne, and all other liquors? Did your organization approve of those ?
Mrs. WILEY. Mr. Reed, we did not go into those details. We acted on the general policy of promoting domestic economy by furthering greater industry here through exports and by having a greater intercourse internationally with the countries with which we trade; and, of course, we were guided by the information which was sent us by the State Department and by the Department of Commerce. I have had a great deal of information sent me by the various Government departments. But as to rum and those other things, I do not know
Mr. REED. Pardon me. Did the State Department notify your clubs that they were going to reduce the rate on rum from $4 to $2.50 per proof gallon, and from $2.50 per proof gallon to $2; on gin from $5 to $2.50 per proof gallon; on brandy from $5 to $2.50 per proof gallon; on other, not specially provided for, from $5 to $2.50 per proof gallon; on cordials, kirschwasser, and ratafia, from $5 per proof gallon to $2.50 per proof gallon; on bitters of all kinds, from $5 to $2.50; and on champagne and all other sparkling wines, from $6 to $3?
Did the State Department notify you that that was to be a part of these trade agreements?
Mrs. WILEY. I am unable to answer the question, Mr. Reed. The only thing is that we think the greatest good for the greatest number would be the best.
Mr. REED. You think this would be to the best interest of the country?
Mrs. WILEY. We think harmony in trade will make for peace. I have two sons in the armed forces. Nearly every woman in the federation has a son or husband in the armed forces.
Mr. Reed. Do you think this will make for lasting peace, and did the first trade agreements make for lasting peace?
Mrs. WILEY. I think you have got to take the greatest good for the greatest munber. You have to take the whole reciprocal-trade idea and weigh it. Nothing is perfect in this world. We do not think this is going to be a panacea for everything, but we believe the preponderance of good is on the side of those trade agreements.
Mr. REED. There is also a reduction on opium. I would not think you would be in agreement with that.
Mrs. Wiley. No. We are very much opposed to opium.
Mr. KNUTSON. Mrs. Wiley, did your organization endeavor to contact anyone besides the Government agencies in aiding you, in taking the stand on the proposal to extend this trade-agreement law for the third time?
Mrs. WILEY. I was not chairman of legislation. I began my term in 1941. I know at that time we had Mrs. Frederic Beggs. She was chairman of legislation in 1938 and 1940, and I am sure that Mrs. Beggs followed the policy of the General Federation, to always have two sides on every question. It is our invariable policy never to have one speaker only on any question. We always have two speakers on every question.
Mr. KNUTSON. Have you contacted any of the people who have in years past appeared before us to protest the further extension of it, because of the adverse effect that the operation of the law has on their particular business?
Mrs. WILEY. No; I cannot say that I personally have. I feel this way.
Mr. KNUTSON. What is your idea of getting both sides, Mrs. Wiley ? Do you think you do that by going to the State Department and to the Department of Commerce? Do you think that gives you a composite, true picture of the situation?
Mrs. WILEY. No; I think our president, Mrs. Whitehurst, always tries to get actual representatives of the two sides, not just the Government side.
Mr. KNUTSON. As far as I am personally concerned, before I could know just how much reliance to place on the position taken by your very excellent organization, I would like to know just what procedure you follow in getting both sides.
Mrs. WILEY. Well, at our conventions we always have speakers on both sides. For instance, the thing that I am always interested in and on which I have spent 30 years of my life is trying to get equal constitutional rights for men and women. We have by no means, after 30 years, come to any conclusion on this matter. At conventions we have both sides hotly contested. I give you that as an instance.
Mr. KNUTSON. I commend you for taking such a long time on that movement. I think it would be well if the administration had taken a small part of that time for looking into the various phases of this.
Mrs. WILEY. I am sure they have. Mrs. Whitehurst is a woman of extreme honesty of purpose. She does not want to be railroaded into any policy unless it has been carefully studied. If she were here today, I am certain she would tell you that what I am saying is absolutely correct.
Mr. KNUTSON. Do you feel that we should enter into trade agreements that give preferential treatment to products of which we have an exportable surplus ?
Mrs. WILEY. I think when experts from the Tariff Commission, from the Department of Commerce, from the Treasury Department, from the State Department, and from the Agriculture Department, who are top men in those five groups, get together and carefully weigh this and have hearings-if you believe in your Government at all, you must believe that they are arriving at a just conclusion.
Mr. KNUTSON. But, Mrs. Wiley, all these agencies that you just mentioned owe their very existence to the President, and it has been my observation that those who do not agree with the President usually
are not reappointed. Would you not say that, in order to give this committee definite, reliable information, you should go to the manufacturers, you should go to the leaders of farm groups, and others besides the State Department, the Department of Commerce, and the Treasury Department? I presume even the White House would endorse your stand if you would ask them.
Mrs. Wiley. But I understand that when these hearings are called you do hear from the representatives of these various classes.
Mr. KNUTSON. I am talking about your organization now.
Mrs. WILEY. I can only say, Mr. Knutson, that we are an extremely honest group of women who are trying to do our best.
Mr. KNUTSON. I know that. I have the greatest admiration for you.
Mrs. Wiley. We get the best information we can before us. We are not sheep. We do not jump over the fence. There is a great deal of difference between us. We have as hot a time as the men have.
Mr. KNUTSON. I have a great admiration for your organization and I have great admiration for your husband. He was a distinguished American and did much to improve our food supply—the quality of it—but I am wondering, before this statement goes into the record, if you should not consult the many, many people who have been adversely affected by these trade agreements.
After all, what we are trying to do is to maintain the American standard of living, and we cannot do that by buying from countries where the wage scale is only a fraction of what it is in this country. If we were all on the same level and the production costs were the same in all countries, I would say your position would be unassailable.
That is all, Mr. Chairman. I thank you. I am sorry I took so much of your time.
Mrs. WILEY. I am very glad to hear your views. I feel that after the long history of tariff legislation in this country, including all the tariff acts, and when in my lifetime we have been through two wars, something is wrong and something has got to be changed. The war has come because of selfishness, in my opinion. It is the selfish treatment of other people we have to look out for. We cannot prosper if we treat other people selfishly.
Mr. KNUTSON. England is perhaps the greatest example of free trade, or as near free trade as we have, and it was not so long ago that I saw that England has fought over a hundred wars in the last hundred years. If free trade makes for peace, England would not have had all these wars. She is fighting wars we never hear about, in India, in Africa, and wherever people stick up their heads and fight for independence.
The CHAIRMAN. The great admiration for your organization expressed by my colleague must evidently be based on the usefulness of your organization. Your organization would not be useful if it were not well informed.
Mr. ROBERTSON. I just wish to make the comment that you must not be disturbed by the type of question that is asked you concerning the position of your organization on the subject of international trade and enduring peace, because, if you have followed these hearings for the past 2 weeks, you will have observed this general assumption by some of our Republican brethren: Neither the Tariff Commission, which is