223. Editorial Note

On October 18, 1974, President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger and Senator Henry Jackson exchanged two letters on Title IV of the trade bill. Jackson’s letter to Kissinger listed understandings with respect to Soviet emigration practices. Kissinger’s letter to Jackson outlined the “criteria and practices [that] will henceforth govern emigration from the USSR” and affirmed that the understandings in Jackson’s letter would “be among the considerations to be applied by the President in exercising the authority provided for” in the Title IV. Copies of the letters are in the Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 18, Jackson/Vanik Trade Bill. The letters were published in The New York Times, October 19, 1974, page 10.

On November 26, the Senate Finance Committee favorably reported out the trade bill; the full Senate passed the bill on December 13. On December 20, both houses of Congress approved the bill, as amended in conference. On January 3, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed the bill, known as the Trade Act of 1974, into law. For the President’s remarks on signing the legislation, see Public Papers: Ford, 1975, Book I, pages 2–3.

The Trade Act of 1974 was a wide-ranging piece of legislation that covered more than most-favored-nation status for and trade with Communist countries. It also granted the President the authority to negotiate tariff and non-tariff barriers, including the power to lower or raise tariffs, and to conclude trade agreements with other countries. Temporary corrective measures, such as import surcharges or quotas, to address serious balance-of-payments deficits became mandatory, unless the President determined that such measures would endanger the national interest. The conditions for receipt of import relief and adjustment assistance were liberalized, and the President was given the authority to impose retaliatory measures against countries engaged in unfair trading practices. The President was also authorized to establish a Generalized System of Preferences, which would eliminate tariffs on specified products imported from eligible less developed countries. Ineligible LDCs included those that accorded reverse preferences to other developed countries and members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or other cartels that worked to raise the price or restrict the supply of a specific commodity.