362. Memorandum From the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant (Jackson) to the Secretary of State 1
- Report on Work of the Committee of Experts on Item III—East-West Contacts
The Committee of Experts began its work of studying measures for the development of East-West contacts without a fixed agenda. However, it did have for consideration two documents: the joint Western memorandum tabled by Foreign Minister Pinay (Tab A) and [Page 761] the Soviet proposal—tabled by Foreign Minister Molotov (Tab B).2 These documents, you will recall, are very different in character.
The first order of business, therefore, was organization of the work of the Committee. Here, the Western delegations had two objectives: (a) to split the committee into two working parties and in this way to prevent the Soviets from assigning the lion’s share of time to discussion of trade matters, and (b) to assure proper consideration to items of primary interest to the West. While we were successful with respect to the former, we achieved little success on the latter since Vinogradov announced at the outset that the Soviet document should, but that the Western memorandum could not, become the basis of discussion for the Committee of Experts. A number of points in the Western memorandum, he said, involve matters relating to the internal administration of the Soviet Union, and as such are inadmissible.
We could not accept the Soviet document as the basis of our discussions. The Soviets would not accept ours.
Contacts Other Than Trade
A great deal of time was spent by the Working Group on Contacts other than Trade in discussion of procedural matters. In an effort to get on with the work we were compelled finally to accept a list of items, common to both proposals, submitted by the Soviets as acceptable for substantive discussion. After a hard struggle we were given opportunity to set forth our case for the relevancy of those of our items which the Soviets refused to admit to the agenda. But the Soviets would not yield.
Thus the Western items of Censorship, Information Centers, Exchange of Books, Periodicals and Newspapers; items on Jamming, Treatment of Foreign Journalists, Tourism and the Ruble Rate, and Restrictions on Diplomatic Missions were never recognized as eligible for admission to the agenda. For the most part these were the very proposals to which the Western delegations attached the greatest significance since they pertain to barriers obstructing the free exchange of information and ideas.
The 9 points of the Western memorandum which were accepted by the Soviets as eligible for substantive discussion fared little better. Roughly half of these concern information and ideas. Among these the only item to which the Soviets seemed really to agree was the one relating to Exchange of Government Publications. Items on Amerika magazine, Films, and Exhibits were consigned by the Soviets to [Page 762] subsequent, detailed bilateral discussions. And although the Russians did discuss Exchange of Uncensored Broadcasts they made it very plain that what they really want is a general agreement for “cooperation” in the field of radio broadcasting. Judging from the Soviet discussion of this subject, what they have in mind under “cooperation” is cessation of Radio Free Europe broadcasts, changes in the content of VOA broadcasts, and abandonment by the US of radio frequencies claimed by the USSR.
In short, the Soviets appeared truly interested only in exchanges of delegations, though even here they expressed a number of reservations and criticisms of the Western points. They seemed to want exchanges supplying the Soviet Union with essential technical know-how without making corresponding concessions in the areas to which we attach importance.
During the deliberations of the Contacts Working Group I pointed out on two occasions that if we did not make more progress and reach quickly the stage of very frank discussion of mutual concessions leading to agreements on a substantial number of items of interest to all the parties concerned, we would not achieve a sufficient measure of agreement to justify a report of any progress to our Ministers.
Trade and Transport
The Trade Working Group held six meetings devoted to substantive discussions, during which they elaborated and considered numbered paragraphs 1 and 2 of the draft Soviet resolution; the two paragraphs on trade of the tripartite Western memorandum; three positive proposals made orally by the Western Powers for elimination of specific minor obstacles to peaceful East-West trade; and the tripartite proposal tabled by the U.S. supporting the early negotiation and conclusion of bilateral air agreements between the Western Powers and the USSR (Tab C).
General Soviet Position
With regard to trade, the Soviet representatives made it clear that their principal demand was for the elimination of Western strategic export controls. They argued that the very existence of these “discriminatory restrictions” destroyed confidence and made normal trade relations impossible. They denied the Western contention that strategic export controls applied to only a small area of potential trade, citing the drastic decline in US-Soviet trade after 1947. The Soviet representatives insisted that the USSR favors expanded trade with all nations regardless of political or social differences, but claimed that this objective could not be realized so long as the strategic controls were in existence. The Soviet delegation wrapped its [Page 763] whole approach in the cloak of the most-favored-nation doctrine, under which, they asserted, all governments should leave the fields of trade and navigation free from all restrictions.
General Western Position
The Western Powers, citing the Directive’s reference to peaceful trade, held that discussion of strategic controls was a security matter and outside the competence of the experts. They also pointed out that it was not their strategic controls which were responsible for the comparatively low level of East-West trade, since these controls applied to only a relatively small area of trade. The basic reason for the low level of this trade, they argued, must be found in Soviet foreign trade policy, which has always emphasized economic self-sufficiency for the USSR and now aims at building a new form of regional autarky for the Soviet bloc as a whole. That such policies are inconsistent with a high level of trade with the West has been made evident by the authoritative Soviet pronouncements proclaiming the existence of two parallel (and opposed) world markets.
The Western representatives noted that an increase in East-West trade had taken place in the last 18 months and that this was an indication of the possibilities for further expansion of peaceful trade provided the Soviet Union so desired.
Specific Western Proposals
The representatives of the Western Powers put forward a number of concrete proposals in the interest of facilitating further expansion of such trade, including proposals for greater freedom for Western business men to establish and maintain representation and the customary business and maintenance services in the USSR; for more adequate protection of Western industrial property rights and copy rights, including Soviet recognition of the right of priority and Soviet agreement to publish patent data; and for more information from the Soviets on production, marketing, price and trade data. These proposals were brushed aside or wholly ignored by the Soviet representatives as unimportant matters. And the Soviet representatives met with complete silence intimations to them on the side by the US representatives that ways might be found to make US agricultural surpluses available for dollars at world prices or by barter for non-perishables if the Soviets were interested in exploring such possibilities.
Similarly the Soviet representatives refused to make any undertakings, even in principle, in regard to the desirability of negotiating air transport agreements, saying only that this was a problem to be pursued bilaterally through diplomatic channels and the question of negotiating bilaterally with any country concerning it had to be considered [Page 764] separately on the merits in each case. At the same time they called for elimination of interference with Merchant shipping in Chinese waters and of other restrictions on shipping, and complained about refusal of bunkering facilities for certain Soviet ships. The representatives of the Western Powers denied that any of them had interposed obstacles to the passage of Merchant ships of other flags. They pointed out that bunkering controls are merely a feature of the enforcement of the United Nations embargo on the shipment of strategic goods to Communist China and are not discriminatory, and that questions relating to security and political matters in the Far East did not lie within the competence of the experts.
It is clear that the Soviet attitude toward trade with the West is negative and political. They are no more interested than ever in the real possibilities of peaceful trade; they are more intent than ever on destroying the strategic controls, and particularly the cooperative export control system, which represents a political alliance damaging to their prestige; they are also manifestly concerned to free their ally, Communist China, from the trade and transport restrictions which apparently are seriously annoying to them both. The British and French experts agree with our appraisal of the negative and political approach of the Soviets to the trade aspects of Item III, and it is therefore clear that unless the Western Powers were to yield concessions in regard to strategic controls, no quadripartite agreement could be reached on trade matters in the framework of this Conference.
At the final meeting of the experts on November 10, I indicated that there was insufficient agreement between the Western Delegations on the one hand and the Soviet Delegation on the other to justify a joint report to the Foreign Ministers. I conceded that through some general and imprecise phraseology a form of words could be found which could express a few over-all conclusions about the work of the experts. However, this would be misleading since it would simply be an attempt to gloss over with generalities our lack of agreement on the most important questions we have been asked to consider.
As I see it, no useful purpose is served by trying to hide the fact that we could not agree, or that we approached a meeting of minds only on those activities in the field of East-West contacts in which we were engaged even before the conference began.[Page 765]
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/11–155. Confidential. A marginal note on the source text indicates that Secretary of State Dulles saw the memorandum.↩
- Neither printed. For texts of the Western and Soviet proposals on East-West contacts, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 245–248 and 239–240, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 163–166.↩