425. Action Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Executive Order to Stop Indirect U.S. Imports of Meat from Australia, New Zealand and Ireland

Secretary Hardin at Tab B2 has proposed an Executive Order prohibiting U.S. imports of Irish, Australian and New Zealand beef and mutton which have been shipped via third countries. Budget has approved the Order and State, Treasury, Commerce, the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Special Trade Representative concur (Tab C). The Department of Justice has certified that the Order is correct as to form and legality (Tab D). Peter Flanigan, John Whitaker, and Bill Timmons also concur.


The State Department, in cooperation with Agriculture, has nearly completed negotiations with the principal exporting countries for a voluntary restraint program on meat exports to the United States for 1970. Under most of these agreements, the exporting country will restrain its total shipments of meat to the United States whether they are sent directly or whether they are transshipped through third countries.

Three nations, however, (Australia, New Zealand and Ireland) informed us that they would be able to control only the direct shipments to the United States. They would not be able to control meat which they had originally sent to Canada and which might then be transshipped to the United States. These Canadian transshipments began to assume importance at the end of 1969 as the supplying nations reached their voluntary restraint limits and private traders took advantage of the Canadian loophole to get the highest possible (U.S.) prices for their beef. (Canada does not participate in the restraint program.)

For the 1970 program, the three countries have agreed to control by the United States Government, since they cannot control the indirect shipments themselves.3 This Order will accomplish such control.

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Based on the voluntary restraint program, the Secretary of Agriculture has estimated that 1970 meat imports will total 1,063 million pounds. Transshipments would be additional, and there is less than a four percent margin for error between the Secretary’s estimates and the point at which the Meat Import Act would trigger import quotas. Continued transshipments could thus be sufficient to trigger the quotas or, if their magnitude is revealed only by subsequent figures, give the impression that the Secretary had knowingly made a false estimate. The Agriculture Department estimates that 6 million pounds of transshipped meat have already entered the United States this year. Consequently, it is necessary to stop this traffic as soon as possible in order to be sure that we can preserve the voluntary meat restraint program. The Executive Order has been coordinated with Jim Keogh.


That you sign the Executive Order at Tab A prohibiting indirect U.S. imports of meat from Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 351, Meat Import Policy. No classification marking.
  2. None of the tabs has been found.
  3. See also Document 423.
  4. The President did not initial either the Approve or Disapprove option but wrote below: “no—Not until meat prices come down.”