376. Letter From Secretary of State Rogers to Secretary of Commerce Stans 1

Dear Maury:

As you are aware, following our meeting in June a year ago on the subject of improving Executive Branch handling of U.S. international commercial activities, our two staffs have held extensive discussions in an effort to work out a program which could be agreed upon by our two departments. I understand that a series of meetings have taken place between Bill Macomber and Rocco Siciliano on this subject, and more recently Bill held a follow-on discussion with Jim Lynn.2 Most recently both Jack Irwin and Bill Hall3 have met with you at lunch to go over various aspects of the relations between our two departments. Phil Trezise and Harold Scott4 have also been involved and are presently focussing on [Page 815] following up the Cresap, McCormick and Paget survey on business attitudes, a copy of which you sent me on September 17, 1971.5

Our two departments have apparently not been able to come to an agreement. Phil Trezise and Harold Scott have tentatively agreed to undertake a joint review of the activities and responsibilities of commercial officers in our missions abroad. The review would draw on, but go considerably beyond the Cresap survey. Its goal would be to ensure that our priorities are correct and that we are doing the maximum to provide timely and effective assistance to the business community. I am heartily in favor of this approach and hope that we can push it forward rapidly. I am most interested in taking whatever steps are necessary and appropriate to improve the contribution of the Foreign Commercial Service to our foreign trade efforts.

Because of the continuing discussions between our representatives during this past year, I have not formally answered your letter of September 8, 19706 which set forth fourteen recommendations. However, because agreement has not yet been reached, and particularly in the light of the need to provide Administration comments on the Magnuson Bill, I wish to set out clearly for the record my position with respect to your fourteen points in the hope that this answer will help move us toward a conclusion.7 Although I address each point individually, I propose to act, to the extent of our agreement, on the program as a whole. It is important that we project a coordinated and overall view of the new program.

My comments are as follows:

1. The Secretary of State should announce publicly that commercial work is the most urgent work of the Foreign Service.

Comment: I agree with you that commercial work is a very important task of the Foreign Service. I cannot agree that it is the most urgent [Page 816] work, although in some posts at some times it clearly may be. In the coming weeks and months, my colleagues and I will continue to emphasize publicly the importance the Department attaches to our foreign trade efforts. Perhaps a joint communication to our ambassadors in the field might be utilized to make known to them our personal interest in their efforts to support our foreign commercial goals. We will consult with you on the substance of such a communication.

2. Appointment of five roving ambassadors nominated by and operating under the direction of the Secretary of Commerce.

Comment: I believe that a convincing case has not been made for a permanent requirement for roving commercial ambassadors. They would tend to be redundant and to undercut the authority of our country ambassadors, who should be the most effective officials which this government has representing it abroad for commercial as well as other matters. This judgment does not apply to highly technical fields in which exceptions have been made for temporary periods or limited functions. The appointment of Ambassador Kennedy and the Pritzlaff Mission are recent examples.

In short, I am not opposed to the temporary appointment of a special ambassador when required for particular negotiations or to dramatize some initiative we might undertake in the commercial field, but I am unconvinced of the need for a standing commercial ambassador corps.

In any event, I would strongly object to having such ambassadors nominated by and operating under the direction of the Secretary of Commerce. As I indicated in my letter to you of May 15, 1970, and in the memorandum which I sent to the President,8 the Secretary of State’s authority and responsibility for the nation’s foreign relations should not be fragmented or impaired in the manner you suggest.

3. Commercial positions abroad should be elevated above the level of importance and prestige of all other functions.

Comment: To some extent I have answered this point in my answer to your first point. I do agree, however, that the commercial function is an important one. I agree that the high responsibilities of commercial officers in overseas posts should be made clear. Their importance should be reflected in the rank and quality of officers assigned to such positions. Requirements will vary from post to post. Rather than getting bogged down, however, in a theoretical argument over which functions are more important in which posts, I suggest that Phil Trezise and [Page 817] Harold Scott review these positions on a case-by-case basis to determine what specific changes or improvements we should make.

4. Increase number of commercial personnel, and subordinate economic functions to commercial.

Comment: Commercial and economic functions were integrated as a consequence of the 1967 agreement between the Secretaries of Commerce and State. Embassy staffing generally reflects the parity of these functions. Where this is not the case, we should work cooperatively to make adjustments, but neither function should automatically be subordinated. The case-by-case review I have suggested in answer to point 3 above will tell us what specific adjustments should be made.

5. Opportunity for commercial officers to become ambassadors; increase number of ambassadors with commercial experience; Secretary of Commerce should be consulted on State nominations of all Ambassadors and DCMs.

Comment: I concur that commercial officers should be given the opportunity to become ambassadors. Obviously, there are posts to which the assignment of an ambassador with a commercial/economic background would be particularly appropriate. In support of this proposal, Bill Macomber wrote to Rocco Siciliano on August 14, 19709 stating that the Office of Personnel has been instructed to ensure that all commercial/economic officers be given the same consideration for assignment to ambassador and DCM positions as other officers in the Foreign Service. As you know, many outside ambassadorial appointees have strong commercial and business backgrounds. We will be most happy to discuss with you any specific recommendations for ambassadorial appointments which you would like to make at any time. I am sure that upon reflection you will agree that I could not possibly accept a veto power from Commerce or any other Department over my recommendations of Ambassadors to the President or over my assignments of Deputy Chiefs of Mission.

6. Greater voice for Commerce in the selection and appointment of commercial officers.

Comment: I agree that the Department of Commerce should have important participation in the selection and appointment of commercial officers. Commerce already enjoys an effective role in this process, to the extent of having a Department of Commerce personnel officer [Page 818] assigned to our personnel office. We are quite agreeable to discussing this aspect further with you.

7. Develop an overall program for increasing the effectiveness of overseas services to American business.

Comment: I agree with you on this point, as well as with your observation that the personal leadership of our ambassadors is extremely important. The proposed State/Commerce study should provide the best means of identifying those areas in which our overseas missions may be deficient as well as recommendations for remedial or additional action.

8. Rotational assignments for commercial officers with American industry. Recruitment of personnel with actual business experience.

Comment: I agree with this proposal. We are developing a practical program to achieve this goal and hope to place commercial officers, through the President’s Executive Interchange Program, in business firms with international interests. Foreign Service recruiting officers have recently begun to visit graduate schools of business to encourage candidates to enter the Foreign Service as commercial officers. Efforts have also been made, including advertisements in trade and professional journals, to attract qualified personnel with actual business experience. Here again the State/Commerce study should provide us with additional insight as to how these activities can be augmented.

9. Rotational assignment at Commerce.

Comment: There is no doubt in my mind that it would be most useful to seek to increase the number of rotational assignments with Commerce. The value of these assignments has been clearly established.

10. Extended tours of duty for commercial officers.

Comment: I agree that commercial assignments should be directed to assuring maximum operational effectiveness of officers involved. To this end, we have already extended the average length of tour in major posts. In the smaller, hardship posts long tours are often not practical for a variety of reasons. I am agreeable, in principle, to making exceptions to the length-of-tour limits in the interests of greater efficiency in the commercial field wherever such exceptions prove practical.

11. Frequent meetings of ambassadors with American business and host government officials.

Comment: I share your judgment regarding the importance of regular contacts with both the American business community and government officials. This is a point we could cover in the joint communication to the field I referred to under point 1 above.

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12. Regular regional commercial conferences, planned and chaired by Commerce.

Comment: Regional economic/commercial conferences should continue, if possible at an increased pace, because they provide a forum for an essential exchange between Washington and the field. I believe that the planning, financing, and implementing of these conferences should be jointly shared by our departments. Depending on the circumstances, there may be a particular reason for a representative of one department rather than the other to chair the meeting. Logically, the senior official present should chair the meeting. I agree that ambassadors should participate in the conferences, and we shall encourage them to become more involved.

13. Institutionalized State/Commerce relationship in Washington.

Comment: Existing channels of communication between the two departments should be sufficient to carry out the consultation functions. The main points of contact are the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Domestic and International Business. The respective heads of State’s Office of Commercial Affairs and Business Activities (Bruce Ladd) and the Director of Commerce’s Bureau of International Commerce (Bob Beshar) provide the ideal focus for continuing coordination. I believe the proposed joint State/Commerce study should address itself to the question of whether more formal contacts are necessary.

14. Directors of U.S. Trade Centers should be transferred to the Department of Commerce.

Comment: The Department of Commerce already has an effective voice in the selection of Trade Center Directors. Trade Centers, like other U.S. programs, must be responsible to the authority of the ambassadors in any given country. Little would be gained in diffusing that authority. Subject to this qualification, we are entirely willing to discuss further ways for Commerce to give more direct guidance for Trade Center operations, given their highly specialized nature, as well as any other practical improvements in these operations you would like to suggest.

You will note that we are in essential agreement on most of the fourteen points. Insofar as we are in agreement, we can and should proceed to early implementation of the indicated improvements, treating them as an integral part of an overall program to improve our handling of international commercial activities.

Jack Irwin told me that in his luncheon with you he took the liberty of suggesting that he be available to you at your convenience to discuss further your letter of September 8, 1970 and this answer. I am [Page 820] happy to have him do so, and, of course, I am available. Jack, Bill Macomber and Phil Trezise will also be prepared to work on details with

Jim Lynn and Harold Scott. I trust that in this way we will be able to iron out any remaining differences between us.10

With best personal regards,


William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 1 COM–STATE. No classification marking.
  2. James T. Lynn, Under Secretary of Commerce.
  3. William O. Hall, Director General of the Foreign Service.
  4. Harold B. Scott, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director, Bureau of International Commerce.
  5. The report on “Business Attitudes Regarding United States International Commercial Services” was commissioned by the Commerce Department; the Department of State did not participate in the study. A copy of the report’s recommendations is attached to a June 8 memorandum from Thomas Stern, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Organization and Management, to Macomber. (National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Management, Management Subject Files: Lot 76 D 235, E—Bureau of Economic Affairs)
  6. Document 371.
  7. In a November 22 memorandum to Rogers recommending that he sign this letter, Irwin stated that efforts by Macomber and Trezise to work out an agreed program with Commerce had foundered because Stans had rejected the various compromises agreed to by his colleagues and seemed to want a formal reply from Rogers to his 14 points. Irwin also pointed out that the Magnuson Bill (S. 2754) would “accomplish much of what Stans has been seeking from the beginning, namely the transfer of the foreign commercial service from State to Commerce.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 1 COM–STATE)
  8. See Document 363 and footnote 1 thereto.
  9. Not found.
  10. Stans replied to Rogers in a December 23 letter that “the time has come for a Presidential decision that the strengthening and upgrading of U.S. commercial representation abroad be accomplished within the Executive Branch promptly and as a top priority project” and thus he had written the President urging that course of action (Document 377).