Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



The ground rules governing competition in international trade rank high among current issues of economic policy. The President's pending Trade Bill and its companion bill on competitive practices place a new emphasis on issues of unfair competition. These issues were prominent during the early 1900's and the interwar years but have rested in abeyance through the long post-war transition. The economic predominance of the United States characterized the post-war period. Now that Europe and Japan are once again formidable competitors in the world marketplace, the rules governing competition on the international level have regained their prior importance. As may be expected, the laws that were framed to deal with these problems a half century ago are the subject of renewed attention and proposals for legislative change. One much discussed candidate for change is the Webb-Pomerene Export Trade Act of 1918. That law, which exempts United States export trade from the antitrust laws, was framed at a time when the American antitrust philosophy was largely unique in the world. That circumstance has changed radically since World War II. The time may be at hand to reexamine the Webb Act's exemptive approach to the enforcement of competition in international trade. Either a return to the rule of reason or an administrative scheme for limited exceptions, comparable to that of the European Economic Community, would seem preferable to the legal vacuum created by the Webb Act.