358. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • STR

Your decision to retain an independent STR has been applauded widely, in the press and in a flood of mail to you personally. It reassured numerous Congressmen, most of the business community, and most foreign governments of your commitment to freer trade.

There remained a great deal of uneasiness, however, over the real influence which STR will wield. The concern centers on the possibility that STR will be physically located in the Commerce Department, with the implication that the Special Representative would therefore be subordinate to the Secretary of Commerce.2 (No other Executive Office of the President is housed in one of the Cabinet Departments.)

A decision to locate STR within Commerce could thus have the following undesirable effects:

The widespread kudos you have received for retaining an independent STR will disappear. Another massive campaign on the subject could well develop since the groups involved are all interested in substance rather than appearance.
Our trade legislation, both this year and in the future, will face increased difficulty on the Hill because of the widespread desire in Congress (including such key people as Wilbur Mills and John Byrnes) for STR leadership. Our legislative proposals will face enough problems without adding this one.
The foreign policy consequences which were avoided for the moment by the decision to retain STR will appear all over again. They would be even worse now because the protectionist image of Commerce has been greatly intensified by Secretary Stans’ leadership on the textile issue, as Arthur Burns noted at the recent NSC meeting on trade.

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I can see very little substantive gain from locating STR within the Commerce building, and it seems that the major headaches listed above could be avoided by keeping STR in the Executive Offices of the President where it now is.


That STR remain physically, as well as legally, within the Executive Offices of the President.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 403, Office of the Special Trade Representative. Limited Official Use. Sent for action.
  2. In an April 23 memorandum to Kissinger, Bergsten discussed four factors that, he believed, appeared to undercut Nixon’s decision to retain an independent STR: 1) Stans, not Nixon, offered the position to Carl Gilbert; 2) Nixon gave Stans the option of locating STR physically within Commerce; 3) Gilbert accepted the position without any conditions concerning direct access to the President or his relationship with other agencies; and 4) Gilbert had been excluded from Stans’ private meetings with key foreigners during Stans’ trade mission to Europe. For text of the memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume IV, Foreign Assistance, International Development, Trade Policies, 1969–1972, Document 197.
  3. In a May 21 memorandum Haldeman told Flanigan that the “President would like you to make clear to Secretary Stans that he does not want the office itself moved. As the Secretary knows, the President will look to Stans for overall supervision of this office, but he feels it should not be moved from its present location and that any attempt to do so would create serious problems on the Hill, among other things.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 403, Office of the Special Trade Representative)