208. Editorial Note

Pursuant to the President’s authorization for submission of illustrative tariff preference lists to the OECD Working Group on Preferences (see Document 200), the Department of State sought to get interagency concurrence for the submission. In a July 17, 1969, memorandum to the Acting Secretary of State, Philip Trezise and Charles Meyer reported that they had been unable to conclude the lists because “Commerce has been unwilling to do other than put in impossibly long exceptions lists.” They recommended that Elliot Richardson convene a meeting with the Under Secretaries of Commerce, Agriculture, and Treasury; Kissinger or Bergsten; and Gilbert to argue the case that the Commerce Department position was politically unacceptable and to obtain agreement on a submission. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 48)

The submissions were expected before the end of July, and Richardson convened a meeting on July 25. In a memorandum to the Acting Secretary, with the handwritten date “c. 7/24/69,” Trezise reported there had been opposition in all the agencies but the primary problem was with the Commerce Department. (Ibid.) No record of the July 25 meeting has been found, but on the July 17 memorandum to Richardson is the notation by Hartman: “Mtg. took place July 25 and position agreed. E is preparing transmittal to OECD.”

On August 1 John C. Leary (E/OT/GCP) sent representatives in interested agencies a memorandum to which he attached the U.S. submission on preferences which had been delivered to the OECD Secretariat on July 31. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 401, Trade General, Volume I)

In an August 26 memorandum to Kissinger, Bergsten set out his ideas on options for a scheduled September 3 meeting of the Under Secretaries Committee and his strategy for steering the Committee on a [Page 539] course that would pose the issues clearly for a Presidential decision. (Ibid., NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 270, Tariff Commission) A note by Kissinger questioned why the issues had to be so polarized, and another note suggested that Kissinger discuss the strategy with Bergsten before he “steers” the Under Secretaries.

On August 29 Trezise sent Richardson a memorandum regarding the Under Secretaries meeting, which was finally held on September 4. Trezise proposed that Richardson press for a recommendation to approve going ahead with the preference initiative, and that the President instruct the Committee “to put together the most liberal preference scheme possible… . Nothing short of a nuclear explosion could blast a truly liberal scheme out of the EEC, and Japan is hardly better in this respect. If the U.S. enters the negotiations with a restrictive scheme the result will certainly be little more than a ‘political gesture’.” (Ibid., RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 48)