560.A.L./1–746: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Secretary of State


46. ReDeptel 2648 December 28.12 Have asked for appointment with Mikoyan13 for purpose of presenting preliminary discussions on trade and employment. Statement I propose to make to him follows at end of this message. Since some days may still elapse before he receives me, I would appreciate being informed if Dept feels that any modifications of this statement would be in order. Dept will note that statement has been worded in such way as to cover contingency that we may wish to ask Soviets to make other concessions, as, for example, along lines of minimum purchase commitments, in place of tariff reductions.

Substance of statement follows:

“It will be noted that purpose of proposed preliminary discussions (to which some fifteen nations are being invited) is, first, to negotiate certain concrete arrangements for relaxation of tariff and other trade barriers and, second, to consult and to reach such preliminary understandings as may be practicable, with regard to other topics on proposed agenda for later conference. (Agenda for later conference, as envisaged by US Govt, were indicated in ‘Proposals for Expansion of World Trade and Employment’, a copy of which was delivered to Soviet Embassy in Washington on December 6 and another copy of which was submitted with Ambassador Harriman’s letter of December 2114 referred to above.

With respect to first of these two purposes of preliminary discussions, it is hope of US Govt that there will be discussion of concessions which each country would be prepared to make as its contribution toward general lowering of trade barriers of all kinds and an increase of world trade and employment. It will be noted that in ‘proposals’ referred to above, particularly chapter 3, reference is made to questions concerning manner in which state trading might be fitted into general framework of international economic collaboration. It [Page 1267] is expectation of US Govt that these questions will form a subject of discussion at preliminary meeting in connection with general problem of reduction of trade barriers.

It is hope of US Govt that discussion will afford opportunity for consultation with regard to other questions treated in ‘proposals’, such as employment, ‘surplus’ commodities, policy toward cartels, and form of international trade organization.

US Govt anticipates that tentative agreements reached among countries participating in preliminary meeting (excluding possible agreements on tariff schedules) would be subject to possible alteration or modification at subsequent general conference in light of considerations advanced by other countries. US Govt envisages that general conference would also consider questions of adherence of other states to draft agreement reached at preliminary meeting and of treatment to be accorded those which do not accept it as well as those not invited to participate. US Govt feels that drafting countries, i.e., those participating in preliminary meeting, should propose in general conference that non-drafting countries be considered as provisionally adhering to agreement provided (a) that they accept non-tariff provisions and (b) that they obligate themselves to undertake bilateral tariff negotiations, or negotiations for equivalent concessions, with countries adhering to agreement.

In view of US Govt, drafting countries should also propose that benefits of agreement should, after reasonable period of time, be withheld from trade of those countries which have failed to adhere to it or which, having adhered, have failed to negotiate tariff reductions or such analagous reductions of trade barriers as would be judged by international trade organization to be in conformity with spirit of agreement.”

  1. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 1355.
  2. Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan, People’s Commissar for Foreign Trade.
  3. Not printed.