Bell Trade Act

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The Bell Trade Act of 1946, also known as the Philippine Trade Act, was an act passed by the United States Congress specifying the economic conditions governing the independence of the Philippines from the United States.[1][2] The United States Congress offered $800 million for post World War II rebuilding funds if the Bell Trade Act was ratified by Philippine legislature, which duly approved the measure on July 2, two days before independence from the United States of America.

Authored by Missouri Congressman C. Jasper Bell, the Bell Trade Act linked the Philippine economy to the United States economy in several ways:

  • A system of preferential tariffs was established, undermining control over imports and exports by the Philippine government;
  • The Philippine currency, the peso, was pegged to the US dollar;
  • The Philippine government was obligated not to place restrictions on currency transfers from the Philippines to the United States;
  • a "parity" clause granted U.S. citizens and corporations equal access with Philippine citizens to Philippine minerals, forests and other natural resources, despite provisions in the Philippine constitution (1935) to the contrary which the act required to be amended.[3]

Filipino nationalists denounced the Bell Trade Act. Even the reliably pro-American Philippine President Sergio Osmeña called it a "curtailment of Philippine sovereignty, virtual nullification of Philippine independence." In 1955, nine years after passage of the Bell Trade Act, a revised United States–Philippine Trade Agreement (the Laurel–Langley Agreement) was negotiated to replace it.[3] This treaty abolished the United States authority to control the exchange rate of the peso, made parity privileges reciprocal, extended the sugar quota, and extended the time period for the reduction of other quotas and for the progressive application of tariffs on Philippine goods exported to the United States.

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  1. ^ Schirmer, Daniel B; Shalom, Stephen Rosskamm (1987), The Philippines reader: a history of colonialism, neocolonialism, dictatorship, and resistance, South End Press, p. 88, ISBN 978-0-89608-275-5 
  2. ^ Kerkvliet, Benedict J (2002), The Huk rebellion: a study of peasant revolt in the Philippines (second ed.), Rowman & Littlefield, p. 150, ISBN 978-0-7425-1868-1 
  3. ^ a b Andersen, Regine (2008), Governing agrobiodiversity: plant genetics and developing countries, Ashgate, p. 218, ISBN 978-0-7546-4741-6 .

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