234. Memorandum of Conversation0

SUBJECT

  • Status of Tariff Negotiations

PARTICIPANTS

  • Mr. Freeman, Secretary of Agriculture
  • Mr. Duncan, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture
  • Mr. Ball, Under Secretary
  • Mr. Petersen, Special Assistant to the President
  • Mr. Barger, OT

Under Secretary Ball and Mr. Petersen reported on the discussions in Geneva regarding the tariff negotiations. Under Secretary Ball indicated that the EEC is evidently embarked on a policy of establishing self-sufficiency in agricultural production while liberalizing in the industrial [Page 503]sector. He noted that the pressures in this direction were increasing and probably resulted from the fact that the industrial sector feels that it can meet foreign competition successfully.

He reported that he had taken a hard position in trying to move the EEC Ministers to be more forthcoming in the Dillon round and the Article 24:6 negotiations but that the Ministers indicated they were powerless to move although personally they were so disposed. As a result of these talks, he doubted that the agricultural package could be improved. He was also concerned that the longer the negotiations continue the greater the danger is that the EEC will pull back on the offers on the industrial items. This is particularly affected by the fact that as the U.K. gets closer to association with the EEC the incentive to generalize the U.K.-EEC concessions will decrease.

Under Secretary Ball suggested that one possible way of handling the impasse was to seek a rebinding of current concessions and to keep the way open for negotiations after the common agricultural policy is established.

Secretary Freeman indicated that he was concerned that if we concluded the current negotiations we would be giving away our bargaining position in trying to get a better bargain on agricultural items in the post CAP period. He suggested that the President is the only one who can decide on whether or not we should conclude the negotiations on the present basis.

Mr. Petersen pointed out that if the negotiations are not concluded when the new trade legislation is sent up to the Hill, Congress could refuse to give any further authority since it could say that we were not successful in using the current authority with the EEC.

Under Secretary Ball suggested two possibilities as a way out of the current impasse: one would be to seek a slight improvement in the agricultural package and sign it pretty much as it is, or, secondly, to have Secretary Freeman and Under Secretary Ball go to the EEC Ministerial Meeting in Brussels on December 4 and 5 and try to push the EEC once more toward a more acceptable agricultural component of the agreement.

Subsequently, a meeting was set up for Secretary Freeman, Under Secretary Ball, Under Secretary of Commerce Gudeman and Mr. Petersen to meet with the President at 11:00 A.M. on December 1.1

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330. Confidential. Drafted by Herman H. Barger and approved in U on December 1.
  2. President Kennedy met off the record with Freeman, Petersen, Ball, and others on December 1 from 11:18 a.m. to 12:17 p.m., but no further record of this meeting has been found. (Kennedy Library, President’s Appointment Books)