United States Tariff Commission

E Street between Seventh and Eighth Streets, NW.
NAtional 3946, Branch 2

Chairman Oscar B. Ryder
Vice Chairman Lynn R. Edminster
Commissioner Edgar B. Brossard
Commissioner E. Dana Durand
Commissioner George McGill
Commissioner George Z. Barnes
Acting Secretary1 and Director of Investigation E.M. Whitcomb
Chief Economist Ben D. Dorfman
Chief, Technical Services Louis S. Ballif
General Counsel Edwin G. Martin
Chiefs of Research Divisions:  
  Agricultural O.A. Juve
  Ceramics J. Mark Albertson
  Chemical James H. Hibben
  Economics (including International Relations Section) Loyle A. Morrison
       Editorial Section Geniana R. Edwards
  Lumber and Paper Franklin H. Smith
  Metals F. Morton Leonard
  Sundries Paul F. Burnham
  Textiles W.A. Graham Clark
  Accounting Howard F. Barker
  Distribution and Markets William B. Harmon, Acting
  Statistical Arthur E. Woody
Executive Officer L.W. Moore
Docket and Public Information Section Edna V. Connolly
Finance Section Lilian T. Bowman
Personnel Section Frances H. Simon
Librarian Cornelia Notz
Officer in Charge of New York Office S.W. Pitts

Creation and Authority.--The United States Tariff Commission was created by act of Congress approved September 8, 1916 (39 Stat. 795). The Tariff Act of 1922 (42 Stat. 858), augmented its powers


and functions, introducing the rate-adjustment power by which provision was made for the change, by Presidential proclamation, after investigation by the Tariff Commission, of existing duties according to procedures and limitations set forth in the act. Title III, part II, of the Tariff Act of June 17, 1930 (46 Stat. 696; 19 U.S.C. 1330), provided for a reorganization of the Tariff COmmission and reenacted substantially all the powers and duties previously given it. The Trade Agreements Act of June 12, 1934 (48 Stat. 943; 19 U.S.C. 1351-54), named the Commission as one of the advisory agencies in the negotiation of reciprocal-trade agreements. The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 (54 Stat. 17; 7 U.S.C. 624), as amended, designates the Tariff Commission as the agency to conduct investigations to determine whether imports are interfering with certain agricultural programs undertaken by the Government.

Purpose.--It is primarily the duty of the Commission to investigate and report upon tariff matters, as required by statute, and to make such investigations and reports and furnish such information as may be required by the President, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, or either branch of Congress. The Commission also makes studies, surveys, or investigations on its own initiative. It is required to place at the disposal of the President or the two above-mentioned committees, whenever requested, all information at its command, and to report to Congress annually upon its activities. Organization.--The full Commission consists of six members, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for terms of 6 years each, one term expiring each year. Not more than three commissioners may be of the same political party. The chairman and vice chairman are designated by the President annually from the membership of the Commission. The Planning and Reviewing Committee, composed of senior officers of the Commission's staff, under the active direction of the Commission, plans, supervises, and coordinates the work of the Commission. The permanent members of the Planning and Reviewing Committee are the Director of Investigation, who is Chairman of the Committee; the Chief of the Economics Division; the Chief Economist; the Chief of the Technical Service, who has general supervision over the work of the seven commodity divisions; and the General Counsel. The special members of the Planning and Reviewing Committee consists of the Secretary or the Executive Officer on questions of administration, the chiefs of the commodity and other divisions concerned, and special advisers, together with the assigned economist in each investigation. The work of the Commission falls into two groups, general administration and auxiliary services under the Secretary, and professional, scientific, and technical work under the Planning and Reviewing Committee. The research group comprises the following units:

Commodity Divisions: Economics Division:
Lumber and Paper
       International Relations Section
     Editorial Section
Accounting Division
Distribution and Markets Division
Statistical Division
New York Office



Investigation of Customs Laws Operation.--The Commission is charged with investigating the administration and the fiscal and industrial effects of the United States customs laws, with studying the relations between the rates of duty on raw materials and on finished or partly finished products.

Investigation of Foreign and Domestic Tariff Relations.--The Commission is responsible for investigating the tariff relations between the United States and foreign countries, including commercial treaties, preferential provisions, and economic alliances. It studies the volume of importations as compared with domestic production and consumption and the effect of foreign export bounties and preferential transportation rates. It also investigates conditions, causes, and effects relating to competition of foreign industries with those of the United States, and costs of production.

Surveys of Domestic and Foreign Industries.--In carrying out the requirements of law mentioned above, the Commission has made many surveys of industries, publishing them separately or in a series such as the Summaries of Tariff Information, which contain a factual digests concerning each of the approximately 3,000 commodities in the dutiable schedules and on the free list of the Tariff Act.

Investigation of Domestic and Foreign Manufacturing Costs.--The Tariff Act of 1930, as did the act of 1922, charges the Commission with investigating the difference in production costs of similar articles manufactured in the United States and abroad, reporting its finding to the President, who may change the rate of duty in accordance therewith to the extent of a 50-percent increase or decrease in the existing duty, the maximum change permitted by the law. A considerable number of tariff rates have been changed in this manner.

Studies of Import Invoices.--To carry on properly its work of acquiring basic factual information on the import trade, the Commission makes extensive studies of the invoices and records of imports at the ports of entry and, principally for this purpose, maintains an office at the customhouse in New York.

Unfair Competition in Import Trade.--The Commission investigates allegations of unfair methods of competition and unfair acts in the importation or sale of articles in the United States and reports to the President cases in which such methods or acts are established. The President may direct exclusion of the articles from entry into the United States.

Special Investigations Ordered by the President and by Congress.--In addition to the investigations under the various sections of the tariff law, the Commission also orders special investigations at the direction of the President, the Senate, or the House of Representatives. In conducting these investigations, the Commission is carrying out the requirement that it supply the President and the legislative branch of the Government with such tariff and related information as they may request. Because it is considered that the Commission's facilities are particularly adapted and the experts on its staff are well qualified to make certain investigations or special studies, the Commission is frequently called upon to perform such activities.


Currently the Tariff Commission is concentrating a large part of its effort on the preparation of a series of reports requested by the Senate Finance Committee and the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives. These reports relate to the effect of the war on the foreign trade situation of the United States and on the international competitive position of important United States industries.

Ascertainment of Foreign Discriminations.--It is the duty of the Commission to ascertain, and at all times be informed, as to whether any foreign country discriminates against the commerce of the United States, either by discriminatory charges, regulations, laws, administrative regulations, or practices in regard to customs, port charges, classificiatons, or otherwise. The Commission reports its recommendations and findings to the President.

Negotiation of Foreign-Trade Agreements.--The Trade Agreements Act of June 12, 1934, designated the Tariff Commission as a source of information and advice to the President in the negotiation of foreign trade agreements involving modifications of the tariff rates. The Commission, together with other governmental agencies, assists the Department of State in the preliminary examination and preparation of material for actual negotiations, and the Commission is represented on the various committees of the trade agreements organization. Considerable assistance also is furnished to the Committee for Reciprocity Information, and the hearings of the Committee are held in the offices of the Tariff Commission.

Agricultural Program.--When the President has reason to believe that articles are being, or are practically certain to be, imported into the United States under such conditions and in sufficient quantities to render ineffective or to interfere materially with certain benefits provided by law for agriculture, he is authorized to have the Tariff Commission make an investigation. If, after the Commission's report, the President finds that the imports are entering, or are practically certain to enter, under such conditions and in such quantities as to defeat the purposes of the acts relating to this program, he may impose, within certain restrictions, fees or quantitative limitations on the imports of articles under consideration.

War Activities.--Since the United States entered the war, the work done by the Tariff Commission directly at the request of war agencies has formed an important part of its activities. This includes cost work for the Office of Price Administration and the War Food Administration; technical and statistical services for the War Production Board; preparation of surveys and reports for the Foreign Economic Administration; and extensive services for the Inter-American Defense Board, the U.S. Commercial Company, the State Department, and the BUreau of the Budget.

Work on Post-War Problems.--War-created problems have led to numerous requests upon the Tariff Commission from congressional committees; currently the Commission has in progress a number of reports being made at the request of the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means. This group includes a report on the effect of the war on United States foreign trade, a series of reports on the effect of the war upon important domestic industries, and a report on the international trade policies


of foreign countries and their effect upon the industry and trade of the United States. Another important project is a report on the customs administrative laws, designed to advise Congress of out-moded provisions as well as provisions in need of strengthening to accomplish their objectives.


Oscar B. Ryder


Table of Contents


1. The Secretary, Lt. Col. Sidney Morgan, in on active military duty.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation