460.509/6–2652: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Achilles) to the Department of State1


8117. Excon. From Linder.

CG discussion of Moscow Econ Conf2 June 25 led to no significant conclusions or unexpected results. Either directly or by implication, all dels reaffirmed adherence to security controls developed through COCOM and there was no move to relax them. At same time, several dels reaffirmed desire to expand East-West trade to maximum extent compatible with mutual security interest and Denmark and Norway Dels also felt further additions to intl lists shld be considered “critically”. No specific resolutions passed on either point.
CG dels had before them summary report on Moscow Conf from COCOM secretariat (Doc 7733), not formally approved by COCOM, which stated that majority of PC’s considered conf to be well-conceived propaganda move whose principal aim was to neutralize to the maximum extent effects of Western security controls. Opinion generally expressed by PC’s after conf, according to report, was that it did not constitute any departure in Kremlin policy and there were no signs of sincere desire to cooperate with West. On contrary, aims of organizers of conf, in view of some govts, were: (a) To raise doubts and uncertainties in public mind by attempting to show that there is profound disagreement between views expressed officially by govt auths in PC’s on subject of exports to Sov Bloc and attitude taken by industrialists and traders in same countries, and (b) To arouse interest among economists in theories on “so-called unity of Euro-Asiatic Continent” and among industrialists and traders in market possibilities, result of which wld be increased pressure on govts to relax controls. Report noted that conf aroused little public or industrial interest in US and Can, skepticism in UK, “some stir” in France and Italy and “a certain uneasiness” in GER commercial circles. Under circumstances, some PC’s considered “might be useful reaffirm vigorously the unanimity of view of all member govts in order to counteract the undoubted propaganda success of the conf and to safeguard unity of Western nations”.
Report on conf (being airpouched) reviews transactions negotiated at Moscow as reported to COCOM. CG did not discuss this aspect but noted that info still lacking from GER and in part from UK. Report noted that PC’s had not approved any of agmts concluded and wld decide whether to approve specific transactions when export licenses requested. Although info incomplete, it was “generally considered” by PC’s that (a) Sov demand was principally for capital goods rather than consumer goods, for strategic articles, and for goods whose delivery already provided for in trade agmts, and that (b) Sov offers were for most part goods provided for in trade agmts, goods of “no great necessity” to Western countries, and goods whose delivery is “extremely doubtful” since offered as bait for conclusion of protocols.
Discussion in CG centered mainly on (a) whether there shld be more publicity about Western controls, particularly in order to answer domestic critics, and (b) whether CG/COCOM is proper place to discuss broader aspects of E-W trade such as general commercial policy and development of common line among PC’s if faced with further Sov initiatives. Varying views expressed on these matters, and common agmt discernible only on such essentially procedural points as: (a) PC’s have different domestic problems re publicity and will have to handle them as best they can in absence any agmt to relax secrecy and (b) CG/COCOM terms of reference (“all matters concerned with security controls”, according to UK) shld not be broadened to cover so-called “polit” problems; hence, for example, advance discussion of attitude to be taken re participation in any future Moscow conf shld take place in “some other intl forum”, understood to mean NATO. Dels seemed to agree that question whether COCOM could discuss “general E-W commercial policy” matters is largely hypothetical. It was in this connection that Den stated “civilian” trade shld be maximized and, to that end, PC’s shld view expansion of security lists critically.
Ger proposal, as expected, was primarily that PC’s shld reaffirm adherence to controls. Ger Del recognized that it might be premature to expect PC’s to come out into open with “common line” of publicity on security controls and did not press this point. Felt nevertheless that Moscow Conf was “challenge” to Western controls which shld be met squarely by making Western position clear, and several other dels (esp Italy, Belg) took same line. France was only country which specifically opposed giving publicity “at this time” to the controls and to “motives behind them”.
Belg Del dwelt on need for common policy and action in event of any future Sov initiative like Moscow Conf, and esp emphasized that govts shld be in position to explain security control policy (incl its intl scope) to their own nationals. Contrary to expectation, Belg [Page 860] did not raise any substantive aspect of “general E-W commercial policy” for discussion.
Our net impression is that discussion served useful purpose in allaying any suspicions which may have arisen among PC’s as result Moscow Conf, reaffirming solidarity of group in following present policies, and calling attention to importance of being better prepared to deal with the next Sov initiative. If opportunity existed in this forum to go forward constructively either in combatting propaganda gains from the Moscow Conf or in preparing for the next Sov move, however, it was largely missed.
  1. Repeated to Moscow, London, Bonn, Brussels, Copenhagen, The Hague, Lisbon, Oslo, Rome, Luxembourg, Bern, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Vienna.
  2. Regarding the Moscow Economic Conference, see the editorial note, p. 834.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.