101. Diplomatic Note From Secretary of State Rogers to the Ambassador of Thailand (Hongladarom)1

The Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency the Ambassador of Thailand and has the honor to inform him2 as follows.

With regard to the proposed PL–480 sale of rice to Indonesia,3 the American Embassy in Bangkok has relayed to the Department of State [Page 205]a request, received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,4 that the United States consider buying a portion of the rice from Thailand in a manner similar to Japan’s purchase for Indonesia. Should this be impossible the message suggested that the proposed sale be delayed until the end of April.

At the December 1969 meeting of the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia (IGGI) the United States pledged to contribute a fair share of the $140 million estimated food aid requirement for the 15-month period ending March 31, 1971. This assistance is still considered vital not only for its direct impact in conserving foreign exchange and stabilizing prices but also because of the local currency generated for support of the development program. Although Indonesia had anticipated that the United States would provide up to 450,000 tons of rice and had in fact requested a greater quantity, the total to be provided is not expected to exceed 400,000 tons. This would include 240,000 tons from the April agreement, the proposed sale of 110,000 and a possible additional 50,000 tons early next year. Any delay in arrival of PL–480 rice beyond March 1971 would fail to accord with understandings reached at the December 1969 IGGI meeting.

With regard to the suggestion that the United States buy Thai rice as has been done by Japan, it is regretted that this would not be feasible in view of availabilities of United States rice and the United States balance of payments considerations. It is understandable that Japan, which has a large surplus in its bilateral payments with Thailand, should wish to find measures to ease this imbalance. On the other hand, the United States is still a net contributor to Thailand’s balance of payments.

Although the assistance provided by the various countries has helped to improve the situation following the serious financial strains which led to formation of the international assistance group in 1966, Indonesian recovery and development requires that foreign exchange resources allocated to food purchases be kept to a minimum. However, as a result of this assistance Indonesia has had the resources to purchase commercially on the average as much or more rice than was possible in 1965 when no rice imports were obtained under the United States PL–480 program. In supplementing Indonesia’s resources and enabling them to continue to make commercial purchases of rice as well as other vital commodities this Government believes that the program, on the whole, has been helpful rather than harmful to Thailand.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, AID (US) 15–8 INDON. No classification marking. Drafted by West and cleared by Alexander Shakow (AID/EA/I), Malcolm H. Churchill (EA/IND), and Elizabeth M. Denham (S/S).
  2. The note was delivered by Barger on December 10 during his meeting with Thai Ambassador Sunthorn. (Telegram 202614 to Bangkok, December 11; ibid.)
  3. The Department had advised Thailand of the planned sale in a diplomatic note of November 20. (Ibid.)
  4. Telegram 15262 from Bangkok, December 6, relayed the Thai request. (Ibid.)