225. Editorial Note
President Nixon met with Senator Strom Thurmond and Deputy Counsel Henry Dent from 10:21 to 10:49 a.m. on February 19, 1970. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) Fred Bergsten reported on the meeting in a February 23 memorandum to Henry Kissinger. Reportedly, Thurmond said that at the American Textile Association convention that would begin on March 17 the producers, perhaps in alliance with the shoe and other interests, would press for quota legislation if a solution had not been worked out by that time. Dent thought the producers [Page 581]would not back off after such a decision, and the President would have to support quota legislation to uphold his campaign commitment (see Document 184). The President reportedly reaffirmed his commitment and wondered if Stans should go immediately to Tokyo.
Bergsten added a paragraph at the end of his memorandum reporting that on February 18 Japanese Prime Minister Sato had told the Diet, in what was his first public indication he had given a commitment to the President, that at their November summit (see Document 219), he and the President had agreed to solve the textile question as soon as possible to avoid damage to bilateral relations. Sato reportedly said there had been no agreement on how to solve the problem. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 399, Textiles Volume I)
Bergsten revisited the quota question in a March 12 memorandum to Kissinger, noting that unless there were shortly to be a textile agreement with Japan, the President would come under “tremendous pressure” to support or lead an effort for quota legislation. Bergsten cautioned that foreigners could retaliate against a like value of U.S exports, that foreign governments would have difficulty holding their own protectionists at bay, and that many other U.S. industries, in greater difficulty than textiles, would also seek quotas. A full-scale trade war was possible, and Bergsten expressed the opinion that the President would have to take the lead to protect the free trade principle and the administration’s new focus on trade with the LDCs, especially in Latin America, to supplement aid.
Following his return from the Asian Development Bank annual meeting in Sydney, Secretary Kennedy sent a brief memorandum to the President reporting on the meeting and several bilateral stops in the region. Kennedy reported that “Prime Minister Sato asked me to convey to you his deep regrets at not having been able to resolve the textile issue during the time span he had pledged, and he reiterated his determination to achieve a solution that would be helpful to you.” (Washington National Records Center, Department of the Treasury, Secretary’s Memos/Correspondence: FRC 56 74 A 7, Memo to the President Jan-Feb 1970)