By John Kunkel
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Extra info for America's Trade Policy Towards Japan: Demanding Results (Routledge Advances in International Political Economy, 11)
The Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act was the last general tariff law enacted by the US Congress. Under the RTAA, the president was authorised to negotiate tariff reductions of up to 50 per cent within a specified period of three years. Presidential authority to negotiate and implement reciprocal tariff reductions with other nations was renewed in 1937, 1940, 1943 and 1945. After the war, the US executive took the lead in multilateralising its trade negotiating objectives through the GATT (Dam 1970). 1 Six rounds of GATT negotiations were completed by the end of the 1960s.
How social phenomena become ‘policy problems’, and how particular understandings of problems emerge over time to guide policy making, are important questions in a state–society approach. This intertemporal dimension suggests a role for policy-oriented learning – relatively enduring alterations of thought or behavioural intentions that result from experience and are concerned with the attainment (or revision) of policy objectives (Heclo 1974: 306). 11 The concept of policy-oriented learning is not meant to convey improved policy effectiveness.
The US president exercises very few powers alone outside of ensuring that laws are ‘faithfully executed’. The president can veto a bill passed by Congress, but has little formal power to ensure that desired legislative measures will be enacted (Wilson and DiIulio 1995). Under the Constitution, Congress has exclusive power to ‘regulate commerce with foreign nations’. While it has sole authority to negotiate agreements with foreign countries, the executive has no direct trade policy powers. As Destler (1995: 14) notes: ‘The Constitution grants the president no trade-specific authority whatsoever.