267. Memorandum From the Executive Director of the Council on International Economic Policy (Eberle) to the Executive Committee of the Economic Policy Board1


  • Status of U.S. Policy Development for World Food Conference

The World Food Conference will be held in Rome, November 5–16, 1974. At the third preparatory meeting of participating governments, ten draft resolutions were prepared for consideration and adoption at the World Food Conference.2 Position papers have been prepared on each resolution, in consultation with selected agencies. These papers will be presented by COB October 30 for EPB approval. It is anticipated that speeches to be made by the principals (Secretaries Kissinger and Butz) at the World Food Conference may contain policy points not covered by the position papers, so that the contents of the speeches may also need revision.

The discussion in the SRG on Friday, October 25,3 revealed that there are some fundamental issues which require resolution. Unfortunately, the final preparations have not been timely. The interagency clearance process was handled in an ad hoc manner, with the result that many issues have not previously been given full consideration by key agencies. Consequently, the positions of some agencies are still unclear.

The October 25 SRG discussion reviewed the major issues posed by the ten draft resolutions and the position papers, and certain general conclusions emerged.

It was agreed that there will be no commitments to any specific numerical targets, including those involving USG expenditures, commodity levels, or program objectives.
There is a fundamental disagreement as to whether U.S. willingness to negotiate a grain reserve system should be linked to negotiating multilateral trade agreements. Some agencies believe basic national interests are involved with the issue, involving both commercial and foreign policy interests. This poses a related issue on which there is also disagreement concerning the appropriate forum in which to begin discussions of an international grain reserve system.
It was agreed that the U.S. would oppose any resolutions regarding grains reserves which establish target levels, specific burden sharing criteria, obligations of specific countries to hold reserves, sanctions, or other specific elements of a grain reserves system. It was also agreed that the language regarding burden-sharing criteria would be deleted from the position paper.
It was agreed that the U.S. continues to favor national control of reserves, and does not favor internationally held grain reserves.
It was agreed that the U.S. will continue to reserve the right to determine later how it will fulfill any reserves commitment. Agreement in principle to a grain reserve system is not a commitment to hold reserve stocks by the USG itself.
Given the tight supply situation for fertilizer and the high possibility that domestic availabilities will fall short of domestic requirements, the U.S. should not commit itself to assuring the availability of fertilizer to other countries.

In the meeting of the SRG, Ambassador Martin and the State Department representative indicated that the speeches to be delivered by the principals might contain numerical targets, which would commit the USG to financial expenditures or to other specific objectives. Other agencies had not seen the draft speeches, but expressed their concerns about the contents and about this unusual clearance procedure in the economic-commercial area where commitments affect other economic alternatives.

  1. Source: Ford Library, U.S. Council of Economic Advisers Records, Alan Greenspan Files, Box 57, Economic Policy Board Meetings, EPB—October 1974. Limited Official Use. Printed from an unsigned copy. On October 29, Malmgren gave a report on U.S. preparations for the World Food Conference to the EPB Executive Committee that was based on this memorandum. (Ibid.)
  2. The third preparatory committee meeting was held in Rome September 23–October 4. On October 24, Eberle circulated a CIEP paper outlining the policy issues raised by the draft resolutions to the participants in the October 25 CIEPSRG meeting. (National Archives, RG 429, Records of the Council on International Economic Policy, 1971–1977, Box 255, Senior Review Group Meetings, 1971–1974, 54234 Eberle Calls for CIEP/SRG Meeting on October 25 at 4 p.m., Rm 208, OEOB 10/23/74)
  3. A summary of the October 25 CIEPSRG meeting is ibid.