120. Statement by Secretary of State Kissinger 1

Since the President signed the Trade Act on January 3, we have been in touch with the Soviet Government concerning the steps necessary to bring the 1972 US-Soviet Trade Agreement into force.

Article 9 of that Agreement provides for an exchange of written notices of acceptance, following which the Agreement, including reciprocal extension of non-discriminatory tariff treatment (MFN), would enter into force. In accordance with the recently enacted Trade Act, prior to this exchange of written notices, the President would transmit to the Congress a number of documents, including the 1972 Agreement, the proposed written notices, a formal proclamation extending [Page 443] MFN to the USSR and a statement of reasons for the 1972 agreement. Either House of Congress would then have had 90 legislative days to veto the Agreement.

In addition to these procedures, the President would also take certain steps, pursuant to the Trade Act, to waive the applicability of the JacksonVanik amendment. These steps would include a report to the Congress stating that the waiver will substantially promote the objectives of the amendment and that the President has received assurances that the emigration practices of the USSR will henceforth lead substantially to the achievement of the objectives of the amendment.

It was our intention to include in the required exchange of written notices with the Soviet Government language, required by the provisions of the Trade Act, that would have made clear that the duration of three years referred to in the 1972 Trade Agreement with the USSR was subject to continued legal authority to carry out our obligations. This caveat was necessitated by the fact that the waiver of the JacksonVanik amendment would be applicable only for an initial period of 18 months, with provision for renewal thereafter.

The Soviet Government has now informed us that it cannot accept a trading relationship based on the legislation recently enacted in this country. It considers this legislation as contravening both the 1972 trade agreement, which has called for an unconditional elimination of discriminatory trade restrictions, and the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs. The Soviet Government states that it does not intend to accept a trade status that is discriminatory and subject to political conditions and, accordingly, that it will not put into force the 1972 Trade Agreement. Finally, the Soviet Government informed us that if statements were made by the United States, in the terms required by the Trade Act, concerning assurances by the Soviet Government regarding matters it considers within its domestic jurisdiction, such statements would be repudiated by the Soviet Government.2

In view of these developments, we have concluded that the 1972 Trade Agreement cannot be brought into force at this time and that the President will therefore not take the steps required for this purpose by the Trade Act. The President does not plan at this time to exercise the waiver authority.

The Administration regrets this turn of events. It has regarded and continues to regard an orderly and mutually beneficial trade relation[Page 444]ship with the Soviet Union as an important element in the overall improvement of relations. It will, of course, continue to pursue all available avenues for such an improvement, including efforts to obtain legislation that will permit normal trading relationships.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, 1974–1977, Box 17, USSR (7). Kissinger read the statement during a news conference at the Department of State at 6:30 p.m. on January 14. For the text of the conference, see Department of State Bulletin, February 3, 1975, pp. 139–143. Kissinger’s statement was published in full in The New York Times, January 15, 1975, p. 4. During a telephone conversation at 1:06 p.m. on January 11, Kissinger told Sonnenfeldt that an initial draft of the statement was “much too defensive.” “I want it to imply that it’s none of their business.” (Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts of Telephone Conversations) Sonnenfeldt forwarded a redraft to Kissinger on January 13. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Trade Bill, 1975) During a telephone conversation with Dobrynin at 10:25 a.m. on January 13, Kissinger agreed to forward that draft to the Soviet Embassy for review. (Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts of Telephone Conversations)
  2. In a memorandum to Kissinger on the evening of January 13, Sonnenfeldt reported that, according to Vorontsov, Dobrynin thought “our rendition of Soviet arguments was too brief—and made it appear that the Soviets were being the difficult ones.” Sonnenfeldt attached a revised text, taking into account these concerns. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Trade Bill, 1975) That text is nearly identical to the final version printed here.