Under the leadership of the United States and the United Kingdom, international cooperation flourished and concrete institutions were created. During the talks that began at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, the International Monetary Fund was established. In 1949, the first international trade body, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was established. In 1994, GATT was replaced by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which continues to monitor international trade agreements. [20] [21] An additional benefit of reducing Congress` trade policy review was to create a level playing field for U.S. companies to participate in foreign trade and competition. An article in several newspapers at the time took the idealistic view: «The tariffs of the past 50 years were enacted primarily as a concession of special privileges to selected and privileged industries, especially to industries that provide campaign funds and political support to the individuals and parties that promulgate them. The customs law, which is now coming into force, was promulgated not to earn money for the beneficiaries, but to balance the economy» [7]. Still, it is likely that the RTAA was not free from corporate lobbying, producing winners and losers, as trade policy always does.

The legislative development of the RTAA and trade policy is complex, but «the tradition of the Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act continues in the form of the modern Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)» [10], a set of laws that guide Congress in the purposes of trade [11]. In addition, trade policy is once again controversial. After a long period of tariff cuts and international trade liberalization, higher tariffs and a more protectionist trade policy have become popular again. Restrictive tariffs imposed by countries desperate to protect themselves — including the U.S. Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 — had only exacerbated the problem, and Roosevelt wanted to remove Congress` heavy hand from trade policy. In the same message to Congress, the president said: «If American agricultural and industrial interests are to retain their deserved place in this [international] trade, the U.S. government must be able to negotiate this place with other governments through swift and determined negotiations based on a carefully considered agenda»[4]. The RTAA`s innovative approach freed Roosevelt and Congress to break this trend of tariff increases. It has linked U.S. tariff reductions to reciprocal tariff reductions with international partners. It also allowed Congress to approve tariffs by simple majority, as opposed to the two-thirds majority required for other treaties.

In addition, the President had the power to negotiate the terms. The three trade policy innovations have created the political will and feasibility of a more liberal trade policy. [3] From the initial accession of 23 countries, gatt has grown to 128 countries, which account for about four-fifths of all world trade. In eight extended negotiating sessions or rounds, GATT member states further reduced tariffs, established anti-dumping rules and contributed to a recovery in international trade. During World War II, the State Department and other government agencies worked on plans to rebuild global trade and payments. They discovered significant gaps in the trade agreement agenda and concluded that they could make better progress through simultaneous multilateral negotiations. After the war, President Harry S. Truman`s RTAA allows the United States to join twenty-three different countries that have conducted bilateral tariff negotiations on a product basis, with each country negotiating its concessions for each imported product with the main supplier of that product.

The various bilateral bases were combined in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) signed in Geneva on 30 October 1947. As more and more U.S. industries began to benefit from tariff cuts, some of them began to influence Congress for lower tariffs. Until the RTAA, Congress was primarily influenced by industries that wanted to introduce or increase tariffs to protect their industry. This change has also helped secure many of the gains from trade liberalization. In short, the political incentive to increase tariffs has decreased and the political incentive to reduce tariffs has decreased. [3] Due to the Great Depression, tariffs reached historic highs. Members of Congress often entered into informal counterpart agreements in which they voted for other members` preferential rates in order to gain support for their own. .