19. Editorial Note

On November 19, 1970, Secretary of Commerce Maurice Stans submitted a memorandum to President Richard Nixon on U.S. commercial relations with Eastern Europe. He wrote: “I am concerned over the rapid growth of Western Europeʼs share of the Eastern Europe market. Japan, starting later, is also increasing its exports rapidly and is already ahead of the United States. Eastern Europe imported $8.5 billion from the free world in 1969. Western Europeʼs share was $5.8 billion and Japanʼs about $400 million. By contrast, U.S. exports were less than $250 million…. It should be possible for us to widen our business relationships with Eastern Europe, despite current difficulties in the broader political sphere, and by doing so strengthen the foundation for progress in political relationships….

“We accordingly propose to increase our recently initiated drive to enlarge peaceful U.S. trade with East Europe and to encourage the development of joint venture arrangements between American and Eastern European enterprises.”

Having recommended “vigorous trade promotion and export decontrol measures,” Stans went on to advocate “early legislative action to authorize you [Nixon] to extend most-favored-nation tariff treatment to U.S. imports from, and Export-Import Bank financial support to U.S. exports to, Eastern Europe.” Such changes in the existing legislation, Stans concluded, “would enable you to remove two major obstacles still impeding expanded economic relationships. Any major long-term growth in our trade with Eastern Europe depends upon their removal.”

For the full text of Stansʼs memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume IV, Foreign Assistance, International Development, Trade Policies, 1969–1972, Document 320. For the outcome of his recommendations to Nixon, see Documents 20 and 21.