363. Letter From the President’s Special Assistant (Randall) to the Secretary of State1

Dear Foster: I should like, if I may, by this letter to present to you an idea that has been determined to burst from my mind on to paper for some time, but which I have withheld sending to you because of the unspeakable complexity of your present responsibilities.

It is an idea that would, in my judgment, strikingly reestablish the President’s leadership in the field of foreign economic policy.

Actually, it is not a new idea at all; it is only the timing that seems to me unique.

I suggest that this is the psychological time for the United States to propose economic integration with Canada.

My thought would be that we propose to do this in parallel with the establishment of the Common Market and Free Trade Area in Europe, and to do it in a similar manner.

We would proceed gradually with the same general time schedule that is being adopted over there, and would make special provisions for agriculture, food processing, or any other unusually sensitive segment, as is being done in Europe.

Britain could not possibly be heard to protest. She is herself breaking away from the Commonwealth, and therefore could not object if we draw closer to the leading member of the Commonwealth. Clearly, if economic integration of Europe is of value to the world, then economic integration of the North American Continent would have similar value.

The question of what to do about Mexico might arise, but I see no problem there. The United States could take the position that it would welcome the adherence of any of its neighbors, which was the answer Britain gave in Europe to similar questions. Actually, it might be very difficult for Mexico to join at the present time.

It might be thought that Canada would refuse our offer. I doubt it. I think that there would be great pressure of public opinion on her side of the border in support of the project. But, even if she should decline, our offer would in itself be an act of leadership.

To make sure that Canada would accept in the first instance, our proposal might be merely that the subject of economic integration be studied by a joint commission.

I think it possible that some of the leading protectionists in the United States might make an exception as to Canada and support this proposal. I recall particularly a speech made in Toronto by Crawford Greenewalt [Page 884] of DuPont, in which he said that, whereas he believed that imports from low-wage countries should be restricted, he would feel quite differently about the matter if we were dealing only with Canada. As you know, an association of nations for this purpose is permitted under the GATT.

One cogent fact is that the important mineral exports from Canada, like iron ore, now enter this country duty free.

I had occasion a short time ago to discuss this suggestion informally with Chris Herter and Doug Dillon, at which time I told them that I would, as soon as convenient, present the matter to you in this way.

I hope very much that this idea may receive your favorable consideration, and that suitable steps may be taken for its implementation.

Sincerely yours,

Clarence B. Randall
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 411.4241/4–157. Confidential.