The Acting Chairman of the United States Delegation to the Eighth Session of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Brown) to the Chairman (Waugh)


Dear Mr. Waugh: The conference is scheduled to end today unless something unforeseen happens. I think it is fair to say we can report “mission accomplished”.

It has been agreed that the life of the schedules will be prolonged for another eighteen months. As far as we know New Zealand is the only country whose signature to this declaration is doubtful. Thus the objective of continued tariff stability during the period of review will have been achieved.

The Japanese have been invited to participate in the work of the Contracting Parties by the affirmative vote of 26 contracting parties. The abstentions were the five Commonwealth countries, Czechoslovakia and Burma. After the vote the Chairman asked the Japanese representative to take his seat at the table, and it was quite a dramatic moment when Ambassador Matsumoto1 rose from the observers’ table in the middle of the room and walked, to a place which was then prepared for him at the regular conference table. There was a sense that this small action symbolized an event in history.

The signing of the Declaration committing governments to govern their commercial relations with Japan by the provisions of the GATT takes place this afternoon.2 I will add a post script to this letter telling you the result.3 I am convinced that there will be more signatures to the Declaration because of the fact that we persisted so long in holding to the one stage. This forced a number who were waivering to take the decision to sign the Declaration which they might not have made had they had the easier path open to them from the beginning.

The British application for a waiver under Article I reached a complete deadlock until Wyndham White4 found a way out at the eleventh hour. The solution finally reached is to my mind far more satisfactory from our point of view than the original proposal to which we were prepared to agree. It makes crystal clear that the only thing the waiver does is to permit widening of preference margins [Page 167] where no diversion of trade is likely to take place, and requires that the action taken be reversed if it does in fact take place. It also gives the Contracting Parties a veto in cases where they think that diversion will result.

This whole episode was very healthy because as it finally came out it demonstrated that there is real opposition to increase of preference as a matter of principle, and secondly because it showed that the smaller countries are not just a rubber stamp for the actions of large ones in these meetings, and given a good case about which they care they can exercise a great influence.

On dairy products we achieved our main objectives of avoiding the issue of the legality of our restrictions, avoiding general discussion of our agricultural policy, and of minimizing retaliation against us. I am convinced that the course we followed was right, and I hope that the decisions taken here did not cause too much trouble for the Department with Agriculture.

We were also able to exercise considerable influence in making the consultations with the Schuman Plan5 countries about the terms of their waiver into a real and substantive operation rather than a very formal and legalistic discussion limited to the question of strict compliance with the literal terms of the waiver. The Schuman Plan countries and the High Authority, particularly the latter, had a very stand-offish attitude at first, and even after the consultations were well under way and going satisfactorily, it was only at the last moment that we persuaded them not to request a paragraph in the Working Party report to the effect that next year’s discussion on their report would be limited strictly to the terms of the waiver. As it was, however, the whole thing went off very well, and I think both sides are pleased.

Throughout the whole meeting ran the undercurrent of feeling which you mentioned in your letter to the Secretary6 that the future of this and other efforts to liberalize world trade depended essentially on the decisions of the United States. After five weeks of working here, I am more impressed than ever by the weight of the responsibility which rests upon us in making the decisions as to our future foreign economic policy and the magnitude of the opportunity which we have to influence the course of what actually happens. Because, leaving aside the under-developed countries, whose role in the matter is not as yet relatively very important, the [Page 168] others will come along with us if we produce anything reasonably sensible.

In this connection you may be interested in copies of two letters I wrote Linc Gordon in connection with the visit of the Randall Commission to Paris.7 Will you show these to John Leddy when you are through with them.

The Delegation performed with its customary competence. Two members, however, need special mention. The first is Walter Hollis8 who worked indefatigably throughout the whole conference and was consulted by every member of the Delegation on almost every issue which came up. His knowledge and good judgment were completely invaluable. Moreover, he not only acted as counsel to our Delegation but in effect as counsel to the Secretariat, and spent a great deal of time with Wyndham White and Royer working out the basic documents which the conference considered. I have had the most appreciative comments from them about his work.

The other is Norwood.9 Not only did he handle a working party which turned out to be much more difficult than we expected it would be very competently, but he contributed sound good judgment in the Delegation discussions on most other issues. Moreover, he performed the indispensable function of keeping track of everything substantive that was going on and seeing that we all did our work when it had to be done. Finally, he has handled the whole matter of the records and report, a job which it is so distasteful to do at the time and so invaluable to have had well done when the next conference rolls around.

I would also like to express my appreciation for the complete support and very prompt service which we received from the Department and the help that other Embassies around the world gave us on the Japanese issue. It is very good for a Delegation’s morale to have their telegrams promptly answered and their judgment normally respected.

Peggy and I very much appreciated the note you wrote us from Beyrouth. Getting to know you and Mrs. Waugh was one of the nicest things about what has been for me a very worthwhile and rewarding five weeks. I am very grateful to you for the opportunity to do this job.

Very sincerely,

Win Brown
  1. Shun-ichi Matsumoto, Japanese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, 1952–1955.
  2. The text of the “Declaration of 24 October 1953” is printed in Basic Instruments and Documents, Second Supplement, January 1954, pp. 31–32.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.
  4. Eric Wyndham White, Executive Secretary of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
  5. French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman on May 9, 1950, proposed the placing of French and German coal and steel under a common high authority. After many weeks of negotiations which included other European nations, the Schuman Plan evolved into the European Coal and Steel Community. For documentation concerning U.S. policy toward the Schuman Plan and ECSC, see volume vi .
  6. Not identified.
  7. One of the letters, dated Oct. 20, 1953, is printed supra .
  8. Assistant to the Legal Adviser, Department of State.
  9. Bernard Norwood, Office of Economic Defense and Trade Policy, Department of State.