17 June 1930

USA President Herbert Hoover signs the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act into law.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, also known as the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, was a U.S. legislation passed in 1930 that significantly increased tariffs on imported goods. It was named after its sponsors, Senator Reed Smoot and Representative Willis C. Hawley.

The main objective of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was to protect American industries and farmers from foreign competition during the Great Depression. It raised tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to historically high levels, with average rates increasing by about 20%. The tariffs were aimed at encouraging domestic production and employment by making foreign goods more expensive and less competitive in the American market.

However, the act had several unintended consequences. Many countries retaliated by imposing their own tariffs on American goods, leading to a significant decline in international trade. The global trade restrictions worsened the effects of the Great Depression and contributed to a worldwide economic downturn.

Critics argue that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act exacerbated the economic crisis by reducing international trade, causing higher prices for consumers, and damaging diplomatic relations. It is often cited as an example of the negative consequences of protectionism and the dangers of trade wars.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was eventually modified and reduced in the years following its passage. Nevertheless, its impact on global trade and its role in the worsening of the Great Depression remain significant historical aspects.