231. Editorial Note
The options paper on the role of agriculture in the Geneva trade negotiations circulated by Special Representative for Trade Negotiations Frederick Dent (Document 230) was reviewed by other U.S. Government agencies. On April 5, 1975, the Office of Management and Budget sent a memorandum to President’s Assistant for Economic Affairs L. William Seidman which criticized the paper for advocating options that were “so broadly defined as to provide little real guidance to the negotiators.” The problem was, according to the OMB, that U.S. positions had yet to be firmly established on either “the relative priorities among trade concessions in the agriculture and non-agricultural area and the probable trade-offs between these objectives” (Seidman highlighted this paragraph and instructed Economic Policy Board Executive Secretary Roger Porter to follow up on this point) or on “a clear objective in the grain reserves area or any interagency agreement on the details of a reserves scheme.” OMB asserted: “Until there is a clearer idea of US objectives, priorities, and trade-offs, it is very difficult to make intelligent decisions on the essentially procedural options presented in the papers.” The memorandum recommended that Seidman “suggest that STR prepare a basic options paper for the President on negotiating priorities, recognizing that this may not be possible by April 15th when the US meets with the EC and other countries in [Page 797] Geneva to discuss these issues.” (Ford Library, L. William Seidman Papers, Box 38, Economic Policy Board Subject File, Agriculture—Multinational Trade Negotiations) Gary Seevers, on behalf of the Council of Economic Advisers, called the compromises presented in the options paper “largely window dressing,” and suggested “that the United States offer to shift the discussion of the grain reserves into the MTN in exchange for a concession that all negotiations take place primarily, if not entirely, in the functional groups.” (Memorandum from Seevers to Seidman, April 8; ibid.)
On April 7, the options paper was considered by the Economic Policy Board Executive Committee, which “agreed that it was necessary to determine our substantive priorities with respect to U.S. interests and goals in both the MTN and the grain reserves discussions.” As a result, Dent would “call a meeting this week to consider: (1) the procedural issues involved in the MTN and agriculture; (2) the coordination of our position in the MTN with our position in the grain reserve discussions in London; and (3) undertaking a preliminary review of our substantive priorities with respect to U.S. interests and goals in the MTN.” (Ford Library, U.S. Council of Economic Advisers Records, Alan Greenspan Files, Box 58, Economic Policy Board Meetings, EPB—April 1975 (1))
On April 11, Dent convened a meeting of the Cabinet-level Trade Policy Committee to consider a draft of the memorandum he had been instructed to prepare at the April 7 EPB Executive Committee meeting. He also submitted for consideration memoranda on “Background for Presidential MTN Objectives Paper” and “Grains and the MTN.” (Ibid., L. William Seidman Papers, Box 38, Economic Policy Board Subject File, Agriculture—Multinational Trade Negotiations) The draft memorandum to the President is a longer version of the one that was eventually sent to President Gerald Ford (Document 232). In the sections on “Tariff Barrier Objections,” “Nontariff Barriers,” “Negotiating Objectives as Regards Commodities in Short Supply,” and “Safeguards,” the final memorandum contains only the first paragraph of each of these sections in the draft. The section on “Implications for U.S. Foreign Economic Relations” was revised somewhat for the final version of the memorandum, while the section on “Agriculture” was substantially redrafted.