218. National Security Decision Memorandum 291


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Treasury
  • The Secretary of Agriculture
  • The Secretary of Commerce
  • The Secretary of Labor


  • Tariff Preferences for Developing Countries

The President has approved U.S. participation in a system of tariff preferences for developing countries, subject to Congressional approval.

The President has made the following decisions on the U.S. position on preferences, to supplement the Under Secretaries’ guidance to our negotiators:2

The scheme should be liberal, conferring the maximum range of benefits on the developing countries suggested by the Under Secretaries. Preferential duties should be set at zero.
For manufactured and semi-manufactured products, the scheme should except from preferential treatment only textiles, shoes, and petroleum and petroleum products.
The scheme should be simple, relying on the standard escape clause and adjustment assistance as safeguards for domestic industry.
All major developed countries must adopt a common scheme.
If duty-free treatment cannot be achieved, we should exclude from our preferences countries which receive selective preferences in developed country markets for products covered by the scheme.
Developing countries should eliminate reverse preferences which discriminate against the United States to become beneficiaries of U.S. tariff preferences.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 83 D 305, NSDM 29. Confidential. Copies were sent to the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Administrator of AID, and Director of the Bureau of the Budget.
  2. See Document 214. The Under Secretaries’ recommendations and the comments of Stans and Gilbert (Documents 215 and 216) were presented to the President in an October 28 memorandum from Kissinger, which summarized the issues for decision into three options. Kissinger added that he had not “burdened” the President with the memoranda from Richardson, Stans, and Gilbert, which presumably were not forwarded to the President. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 404, Trade Preferences for LDCs)