349. Action Memorandum From C. Fred Bergsten of the Operations Staff, National Security Council to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Administration of U.S. Trade Policy

Reports have reached me from usually reliable sources that: (1) The President has asked the Secretary of Commerce to handle U.S. trade policy; and (2) the President has asked the Secretary of Commerce to visit Europe in April to discuss trade matters as a follow-up to his own trip next week.

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Administration of U.S. trade policy is one of the major issues under consideration in the Trade Policy Study ordered by NSSM 16.2 Precipitate decisions on the issue would undermine that Study.

In addition, designation of the Secretary of Commerce as our principle trade representative could seriously damage our relations with Europe. It would strongly imply a protective approach completely inconsistent with the President’s statement on February 63 in favor of a liberal trade policy. It would be particularly disastrous in view of the decision to press for restrictions on textile imports.

I therefore recommend that you take any opportunity to suggest to the President that precipitate decision on the management of U.S. trade policy could undermine his own policy statements. Any decisions on this matter should await the NSC review of U.S. trade policy.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 403, Office of the Special Trade Representative. Limited Official Use.
  2. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume IV, Foreign Assistance, International Development, Trade Policies, 1969–1972, Document 182.
  3. Reference is to Nixon’s statement at his press conference on February 6; for text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1969, p. 74.