109. Memorandum From Secretary of State Herter to President Eisenhower0


  • Restoration of Trade Agreement Benefits to Imports from Poland

I understand that you have suggested that action to restore trade agreement benefits to imports from Poland might best be deferred until sometime after October, unless the Department of State perceived objection. I firmly believe that this action should not be further deferred. This question should be considered in the light of the development of our relations with Poland since October 1956 and the firm commitment we have made to the Polish Government to restore most-favored-nation treatment following a nationalization claims settlement.

The events in Poland in October 1956 and the advent to power of the Gomulka regime afforded the United States opportunities to pursue policies designed to help sustain the Polish people in their struggle against the domination of the Soviet Union and world communism. In the past four years the United States has concluded with Poland a series of PL 480 sales agreements totaling $365.3 million. In addition, a total of $61 million in credits has been extended through the Export-Import Bank. The Polish people are aware of and appreciate this aid which has been of direct benefit to them. Of equal importance is the fact that our aid helps to create an atmosphere in official United States-Polish relations, such as those in the informational and exchange of persons fields, and thus to keep open our channels of contact with the Polish people. By and large our policy towards Poland and specially our aid to the Polish people enjoys the support of public and Congressional opinion, including the support of the Polish-American community in the United States.

The commitment to restore most-favored-nation treatment to Poland, as pointed out in the memorandum of the Acting Secretary of State dated August 6,1 was made in connection with negotiations for a settlement of claims of American nationals against Poland. This commitment was initially made by our Chargé d’Affaires in Warsaw on October 17, 19592 pursuant to instructions from the Department. The commitment [Page 294] was repeated by our Ambassador on November 16, 19593 again upon instructions of the Department. In a conversation of March 25, 1960 with the Polish Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Piotr Jaroszewicz, the Under Secretary personally clarified and reaffirmed our commitment to restore MFN treatment.4 He stated, “It had always been our position that the conclusion of a claims settlement and the granting of MFN would occur at the same time.”

The commitment to restore most-favored-nation treatment to Poland was based upon the authority of NSC 5808/1 approved by you on April 16, 1958.5 Paragraph 28(c) of this Policy provides: “Extend most-favored-nation treatment to Poland at an appropriate time.”

The Operations Plan for Poland, approved on February 26, 1960 by the Operations Coordinating Board6 states in paragraph 52: “Grant most-favored-nation tariff treatment to Poland as soon as a nationalization claims settlement is signed.”

The nationalization claims settlement with Poland was signed on July 16.7 We are therefore already in breach of our firm understanding with the Polish Government that most-favored-nation treatment would follow shortly after conclusion of the claims settlement. If action is to be further delayed we lay this Government open to a charge of bad faith and run a risk of prejudicing seriously our relations with Poland and thus reducing our opportunities for reaching the Polish people.

It might also be noted in this connection that the Polish Government is obligated to begin payments under the nationalization claims settlement in January 1961. This provision was hard won since the Poles wished to delay their first payment until after they could increase exports to the United States. If the granting of most-favored-nation treatment is to be long delayed, their exports will be thereby affected and could lead to a reopening of the question of Poland’s payment obligations under the agreement.

Members of the Polish Embassy have exhibited considerable anxiety and concern over the delay which has already taken place. They have taken up the matter with the Department on four separate occasions.8 [Page 295] If there should be further delay we can anticipate a strong reaction from the Polish Government.

In view of the foregoing considerations, I strongly urge that the action to restore trade agreement benefits to imports from Poland be taken as soon as possible.

Christian A. Herter9
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File. Confidential.
  2. In Herter’s August 6 memorandum for the President, he recommended that Poland be granted most-favored-nation treatment. (Department of State, Polish Desk Files: Lot 65 D 121, Most Favored Nation Treatment)
  3. See Document 91.
  4. Telegram 845 from Warsaw, November 15, 1959, transmitted Beam’s statement to Kotlicki of that date. (Department of State, Central Files, 248.1141/11–1759 and Washington National Records Center, Warsaw Embassy Files: FRC 65 A160, Nationalization 1959: US-Polish Claims Talks)
  5. See Document 98.
  6. Document 46.
  7. See Document 95.
  8. See Document 103.
  9. Copies of the memoranda memoranda of conversation outlining Dobrosielski’s conversation with Vedeler on August 30 and Lychowski’s conversation with Martin on September 6 are in Department of State, Central Files, 411.4841/8–3060 and 411.4841/9–660, respectively. No records of the other two approaches by the Polish Embassy have been found.
  10. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.