Omnibus Foreign Trade and Competitiveness Act
During the 1970s, the American trade surplus slowly diminished and morphed into an increasing deficit. As the deficit increased through the 1980s, the blame fell on the tariffs placed on American products by foreign countries, and the lack of similar tariffs on imports into the United States. Workers, unions and industry management all called for government action against countries with an unfair advantage.
The Omnibus Foreign Trade and Competitiveness Act started as an amendment proposed by Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) to order the Executive branch to thoroughly examine trade with countries that have large trade surpluses with the United States. If the trade surpluses continued, the offending country would be faced with a bilateral surplus-reduction requirement of 10%. Because of its style of zero-sum game thought, it is considered by economists to be a modern form of mercantilism. The act was signed into law by President Reagan, slightly less strict than proposed, as the Omnibus Foreign Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. It expired in 1991 and was not renewed until 1994 by President Bill Clinton. It again expired in 1997 and was renewed once more by Clinton in 1999.
- Appleyard, Dennis R, Alfred J Field and Steven L. Cobb. International Economics. McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2006
- Cass, Ronald A. "Velvet Fist in an Iron Glove: The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988" Regulation, Winter 1991.