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The Effect of Reciprocal Treaty to American Watch Industry As Made Between Our Government and Switzerland

From American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, October 1936

The Effect of Reciprocal Treaty to American Watch Industry As Made Between Our Government and Switzerland

The following letter points out the necessity for greater interest in our American industries and affairs, source of information is authentic:

"I have read with interest the article on page 14 of your July issue, entitled 'Who Knows the Answer?' and I am not surprised that some of your patrioticallyminded readers are disturbed over the large sales of imported watch movements at a time of such great unemployment in this country.

"Employees, as well as employers, have something to think about when they realize the effect of the reciprocal treaty that our government made with Switzerland, which became effective on February 15th of this year. Before this treaty went into effect, the importations of Swiss watch movements exceeded the number manufactured in the United States and, as you are well aware, there was at that time a serious problem of unemployment in the watch-making industry. Every imported movement deprives American workmen of approximately ten hours of labor. In spite of that situation, the reciprocal treaty with Switzerland reduced the tariff on imported watches, with the following results:

"In the first six months of 1935, 375,347 watch movements were imported.  Under the reciprocal treaty with Switzerland, in the first six months of 1936, 590,880 watch movements have been imported, an increase of over 55%. This increase of 215,533 watch movements imported during the first six months of this year has replaced over two million hours of work that could have been performed in the United States.

"If this deliberately planned program, which is affecting labor in the American watch-making industry, was proving to be of proportionate benefit to some other class of workmen in the United States, there might be some justification for such a program. There appears, however, to be no possible justification, as our total export and import business with Switzerland during this same period shows a decline in goods they took from us of over 12 million Swiss francs, while they increased their sales to us over 3 million francs, buying less and selling more. This, of course, shows an alarming trend as it creates an unfavorable trade balance and it is impossible to justify a treaty with any foreign country that produces such a result. This trend is increasing rather than decreasing, and employees and employers alike face a problem of government policy that not only does not tend to relieve the unemployment situation in the United States, but actually increases it."

What May We Expect Next From Our Government Officials?

Our office has been deluged with protest against recent Government officials' actions and statements detrimental to our entire industry, one of the most current being that of our Secretary of Labor as appeared in Walter Winchell's Column, as follows:

Friday, September 4, 1936 

"A newspaperman just returned from Geneva was in. Said that Miss Perkins, our Secretary of Labor, on August 10th, held a special press conference for United States reporters. At which she stated that she had brought a watch all the way from here to Geneva to be repaired by "any" watchmaker. That there weren't any good ones in America. This from the Secretary of Labor!" 

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