403. Editorial Note

The President met with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy from 9:35 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. on August 12, 1969, at the Western White House in San Clemente. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) According to Alexander Butterfield’s summary of the discussion of U.S. wheat prices to Japan and Latin America, the Committee noted that on July 18 the United States had announced a reduction in wheat prices for exports only to Europe and the Mediterranean, and that Japan and Brazil had complained, the former bitterly. The summary reports that the Interagency Task Force on Agricultural Trade had reached the unanimous conclusion that wheat prices should also be reduced for Japan and Latin America. (Ibid., White House Central Files, Houthakker, Box 19, Wheat-Wheat Pricing)

Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Industry McEwen, in response to a Parliamentary question on August 13, indicated that a U.S. decision to reduce prices for exports to Japan and Latin America had been made, and that the Australians had been promptly informed. McEwen informed Parliament that Secretary of Agriculture Hardin had called at President Nixon’s request to inform him of the decision taken at San Clemente that day. McEwen explained the path and rationale of U.S. price reductions, and said the Australian Wheat Board immediately would take appropriate steps to adjust its prices. He reported that Hardin had given assurances that the official U.S. policy was to preserve the International Grains Agreement, and that he had responded that to remain competitive one had to meet the prices of one’s competitors but that “the high objective should be that when the forces of competition made it possible to do so there should be a return to the prices of the International Grains Agreement as originally negotiated.” A copy of the Parliamentary question and McEwen’s answer was forwarded to Henrik Houthakker under cover of an August 14 transmittal slip from the Commercial Counselor of the Australian Embassy, A.J. McGoldrick. (Ibid.)