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Bell Trade Act

Bell Trade Act

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.

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.

According to Filipino nationalists, the Bell Trade Act had provisions that tied the Philippine economy to the United States economy:

  • The Philippine currency, the peso, was to be pegged to the US dollar.
  • The Bell Trade Act required that the Philippine constitution be revised to grant U.S. citizens and corporations equal access to Philippine minerals, forests and other natural resources.
  • The Bell Act stipulated that free trade be continued until 1954; thereafter, tariffs would be increased 5 percent annually until full amounts were reached in 1974.
  • This act allowed the U.S. to import whatever products/goods it wanted with no import duties.

The parity clause required an amendment relating to the 1935 Philippine Constitution's thirteenth article, which reserved the use of natural resources for Filipinos. Filipino nationalists denounced the Bell Trade Act. Even the reliably pro-American Philippine President Sergio Osmena called it a "curtailment of Philippine sovereignty, virtual nullification of Philippine independence." Since the Bell Trade Act was unpopular to Filipino nationalists, a revised United States-Philippine Trade Agreement (the Laurel-Langley Agreement) was negotiated to replace Bell Act. 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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