19. Information Memorandum From C. Fred Bergsten of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • The President’s Expression of Foreign Policy Views at Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy

The President expressed a number of interesting foreign policy views at the April 10 meeting with his economic advisers.2 Foreign economic policy topics dominated the overall discussion.

The President linked NATO and soybeans. He said that his support for NATO would be seriously jeopardized if the Europeans took restrictive action against U.S. exports because mid-western Congressmen, whom he can now control on security matters, would shift their views if European trade restrictions hurt them directly.
The President also said that the EEC “could forget U.S. political support” if it turned inward economically.
The President is prepared to take a hard look at the possibility of a major U.S. initiative regarding U.S.-European agricultural trade. He noted that we could do the Europeans “no greater favor” than to convey our farm policy experience to them in time to head off similar mistakes there. A task force chaired by CEA, of which I am a member, is developing proposals.
The President again expressed his great interest in East-West trade, essentially for political reasons. He specifically wants to look at the possibility of agricultural deals with Eastern Europe “in two or three months.” The President instructed the CEA to prepare a study on the quantity of U.S. exports which might be involved in a trade liberalization package and to include Eastern Europe in their study of U.S. agricultural trade. I will coordinate these with our NSSM 35 exercise.3
The President suggested that Secretary Hardin might include one or two Eastern European countries on his forthcoming trip.
The President indicated that foreign economic policy should be discussed in the NSC for political considerations and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy for economic considerations. However he expressed the primacy of the political aspects of most foreign economic problems (reminding Treasury of his approach to the German offset!) and, on East-West trade, referred to “kicking the subject up to the NSC”. (Paul McCracken had apparently raised this jurisdictional issue with the President.)

The course of the discussion fully justified my attendance at the meeting and I thanked McCracken for acceding to your request that I be able to attend.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 215, Council of Economic Advisers. Confidential.
  2. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy met in the Cabinet Room 4:19-6:02 p.m. Attendees were Agnew, Walker, Hardin, Stans, Shultz, Mayo, McCracken, Burns, Safire, Samuels, Moynihan, and Bergsten. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  3. NSSM 35, dated March 28, 1969, called for a study of “US Trade Policy Toward Communist Countries.” (Ibid., RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 35)
  4. Neither the Department of State nor the NSC were members of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy.