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


  • Extension of the Export Control Act

Commerce’s brinksmanship in encouraging the House to reject the Conference report on the Export Control Bill paid off yesterday, when both Houses passed a bill containing operative provisions which are less forcibly liberalizing than the earlier Conference report. (The risk was that we would get no bill at all.)

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The agreed bill still requires the Secretary of Commerce to review the control lists and liberalize them “in furtherance of the policy, purposes and provisions of this Act,” and the Secretary must report what he has done in about six months. However, the control regulations may provide for denial of licenses that would prove detrimental to the national security, regardless of foreign availability—although the Secretary of Commerce must report to the Congress when national security considerations do in fact override foreign availability. (There is some debate whether this provision merely means that he must report on specific license denials, or on all items which continue on the control list despite their foreign availability.)

Assistant Secretary of Commerce Ken Davis, who did an excellent job as the principal legislative shepherd of the bill, put out a rosy release (attached)2 stating that the President is gratified at the results since the bill offers the potential of broader trade with the Communist countries while still preserving Presidential prerogatives on deciding the extent and timing of liberalization. Nevertheless, this new Act means that we will be forced to allow extensive liberalization in the near future unless the President wishes to buck hard against the intent of the Congress.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 213, Commerce, Volume I 1970. Limited Official Use. A stamped notation, dated January 12, 1970, reads: “HAK has seen.”
  2. Not printed.