430. Editorial Note

Fred Bergsten on March 16, 1970, reminded Henry Kissinger in an information memorandum of the President’s approval of his March 9 meat import recommendation (see Document 426), and called his attention to the domestic advisers’ objections (see Document 428). Bergsten believed that the outcome might be “non-compliance with a strongly felt Presidential desire—to bring down meat prices.” He also noted that maintenance of the voluntary restraints instead of mandatory quotas would be a plus from a foreign policy standpoint.

Bergsten’s March 16 memorandum is one of a number of documents attached to a July 2 memorandum from Ernest Johnston to the NSC Files. Johnston wrote: “The matter was eventually handled in a memorandum from Ehrlichman to the President which will not appear in our records. The attached file was sent to us for further action and our aborted memorandum is of no importance. However, some of the [Page 1057]enclosures to it are originals with Presidential signatures, etc. which you may wish to keep.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 401, Trade General, Volume I)

The “aborted memorandum” to which Johnston referred is an undated and unsigned memorandum on White House stationery from Kissinger to the President entitled “Reconsideration of Meat Import Decision.” The memorandum indicated that Kissinger’s March 9 memorandum ( Document 426) had been recast to include the points Charles Colson wanted brought to the President’s attention: 1) that increased imports would cost the administration political support among cattlemen, and 2) that resorting to quotas would “blow a hole” in the President’s trade policy.

Kissinger presumably never saw the “aborted memorandum.” An April 4 memorandum from Colson to Alexander Haig recommended that no memorandum on meat imports should go to the President at that time; the question might be reopened in June depending on how the import situation developed. (Ibid., NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 351, Meat Import Policy)

On April 9 Bergsten sent Kissinger a memorandum reporting on his meeting with Colson that day. Colson reportedly agreed with Kissinger’s view that the meat import program would not be tenable for much longer and was leaning toward lifting the level of voluntary import restraints in June, to which Bergsten agreed. Kissinger, on April 13, approved the recommendation in Bergsten’s memorandum that he take no action at that time, but follow the issue with Colson in the lead on the grounds it was basically a domestic price issue. Bergsten concluded that he would submit a memorandum for the President when the domestic advisers agreed it was time to go forward. (Ibid.)