209. Editorial Note

The oil crisis that followed the October 1973 Middle East war seriously disrupted many countries’ balance of payments. Rising oil prices resulted in rising trade deficits for oil importing countries, and thus the possibility that these countries would undertake unilateral actions, such as imposing import restrictions, to protect their balance of payments. At the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Executive Committee meeting on April 23 and 24, 1974, member states agreed to work toward a joint declaration disavowing such actions. (Telegrams 10037, 10054, 10070, and 10073 from USOECD Paris, all April 25; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files; except telegram 10054 which is ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 680, Country Files, Europe, France, Vol. XII, 1 Jan 1974–)

International negotiations on the declaration’s content took place over the next several weeks, and on May 30, it was unanimously adopted by the OECD Ministerial Council. In the declaration, often referred to as the OECD trade pledge, members agreed to adopt a cooperative approach to the troubles besetting the international economy and avoid unilateral actions to protect their balance of payments for one year. Representative to the OECD William Turner reported that “All delegations supported the need for declaration as curb on backsliding measures from current level of trade liberalization and as important step in improving climate for further liberalization in MTN. There was widespread agreement with our characterization of the declaration as an act of ‘constructive statesmanship.’” (Telegrams 13380 and 13382 from USOECD Paris, both May 31; ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files) The texts of the declaration and the Council communiqué were transmitted, respectively, in telegrams 13246 and 13247 from USOECD Paris, both May 30. (Ibid.) They are also printed, along with the statements by Special Representative for Trade Negotiations William Eberle, Council of Economic Advisers Herbert Stein, and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs Arthur Hartman to the OECD Ministerial Council, in Department of State Bulletin, July 1, 1974, pages 25–33.