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Organization of Foreign Policy; Information Policy; United Nations; Scientific Matters

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
Volume XXV, Organization of Foreign Policy; Information Policy; United Nations; Scientific Matters, Document 46


46. Editorial Note

On November 15, 1961, Secretary of State Rusk and Secretary of Commerce Hodges signed a “Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of State and the Department of Commerce on International Commercial Activities.” The agreement began with the following statement of objective:

“The President has directed the Executive Agencies to place maximum emphasis on enlarging the foreign commerce of the United States in seeking to maintain an over-all balance in our international payments. He has charged the Department of Commerce with the leadership within the Government to insure that a vigorous effort be made to expand trade, travel, and investment and 'to provide energetic leadership to American industry in a drive to develop export markets.' He has called upon the Departments of State and Commerce to proceed jointly to increase commercial representation and facilities abroad. And he has made it clear that Chiefs of Mission shall oversee and coordinate all such activities abroad.

“To provide effective leadership, the Department of Commerce is assuming primary responsibility and direction for foreign trade promotion activities at home and abroad, giving due consideration to interests of other agencies.

“The Departments of State and Commerce agree that the President's directive can best be carried out abroad by a single overseas service. To fulfill their respective responsibilities, the two Departments undertake to establish new arrangements for the purpose of providing optimum commercial services within the frame-work of a unified Foreign Service.

“To this end the Department of State agrees to develop, with the full participation of the Department of Commerce, a Commercial Specialist Program within the Foreign Service.”

The agreement provided an opportunity for Foreign Service officers to elect commercial work as a career specialty and permitted advancement within this specialty to the highest levels in the Foreign Service. Personnel would be augmented by an enlarged number of appointments from the Department of Commerce and the business community, who, along with Foreign Service career specialists, would provide the expertise needed to assist American business in meeting the increasing competition for world markets.

In order to attract economic and commercial talent, the two Departments would establish joint recruitment teams to visit educational institutions granting graduate and undergraduate degrees in business administration or foreign trade, and the Department of State would make special provision in its written Foreign Service examinations for candidates with background and interest in commercial activities. A department of commercial affairs would be established in the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State, chaired by a mutually acceptable nominee of the Department of Commerce. The chairman would develop a commercial training program and supervise its implementation and operation.

The Department of Commerce would normally initiate instructions to commercial specialists for carrying out their operational and reporting duties and responsibilities. Current instructions would be modified to provide increased emphasis on the promotion of trade, investment, and travel. Commercial specialists would be encouraged to travel more widely in their respective districts in order to develop market information which would be rapidly communicated to the American business community.

The Memorandum of Agreement, November 15, 1961, is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Miscellaneous Correspondence, Hodges, Luther. See also U.S. Department of Commerce, Foreign Commerce Weekly, April 21, 1962, page 1; Department of State Bulletin, April 30, 1962, pages 741–742. The text of the State-Commerce Agreement was transmitted to all posts in Circular Instruction CW–9672, June 4, 1962. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1960–63, 120.201/6–462)