Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



The United States emerged from World War II as the only major trading nation with a strong economic and financial position. The post-War international trading structure, embodied in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) frameworks, was established with the United States in the position of a dominant, largely self--sufficient producer of many and superior goods. The succeeding three decades, however, have witnessed radical changes in that circumstance. No longer is a "fortress America" economically feasible. The United States is no longer self-sufficient in a number of raw materials on which it depends; indeed, the scarcity of natural resources may well be one of the dominating issues for the next decade, if not for the remainder of the century. More than one study has predicted acute shortages of basic agricultural, mineral, and other industrial materials in coming decades. While technological improvements and the cultivation of substitutes for some materials may alleviate shortages, the problem of resource scarcity is still serious, and the effects of a variety of shortage situations are already being felt. State officials contemplate the possibility of Texas becoming a net importer of petroleum within five years. World food production is being pushed to capacity. Demand curves, moreover, following population curves and increased consumption by the Third World, must inevitably increase the strain on stable markets. Substantial increases in costs--reflecting in large part a real increase in commodity value through decreased supply, increased demand or increased costs of production--seem unavoidable and already apparent.