278. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Kissinger in Kyoto, Japan1

256799/Tosec 215. Subj: World Food Conference: Appraisal. From Katz for the Secretary.

What Was Achieved

Representatives of about 130 governments met for two weeks of intensive effort to lay out strategy for meeting food problem. Conference, supplemented by about 900 media and 700 non-government organization reps focused world attention on food supply as long-term problem which cannot be met by US alone or developed countries together. Interdependence thread runs through nineteen resolutions adopted from ten proposed by SYG Marei plus dozens introduced during conference. Some of these are hortatory; others fill in framework established in your speech.
Specifically, we secured recognition of special role for major grain producing, consuming and trading countries to meet as soon as possible to establish food reserves system. Conference called upon [Page 964] IBRD–FAOUNDP investment, as you proposed, and McNamara is anxious to move on this. Your proposals on global nutrition surveillance system, applied nutrition research and programs to combat deficiencies have been assigned to existing UN institutions to implement, and we will be following up. Proposals for IBRD/IMF study of food financing gap was accepted in fact.
Among non-US initiatives, LDCs managed to push through their group an OPEC-initiated formula, accepted by conference, for establishing Agricultural Development Fund. Formula recognizes major role for funding by oil exporters. Prospects for oil exporter contributions through this device remain unclear, but it is another means for bringing home responsibilities accompanying their wealth.
Provision for continuing attention to food problem through World Food Council recommended by conference may be useful in maintaining momentum over long-term. In present form, Council does not have operational responsibilities and therefore should not complicate carrying-out specific initiatives.

What Was Not Achieved

We made no headway on establishing exporters planning group after formation of exporters group met resistance in bilateral discussions with our prospective partners (EC, Australia, Canada and Argentina). They are highly suspicious of our objectives, and it was not raised in conference sessions. We are continuing to press this concept and are aiming for at least a preliminary meeting in conjunction with a special session of the International Wheat Council in London early next year.
Provision was not specifically made in conference resolutions for food financing subcommittee under consultative group on food production and investment because of adamant opposition of other Group B (developed) countries to prejudging actions to be taken by consultative group. We are taking line with McNamara, and in public, that setting up subcommittee should be among group’s first business.

Follow-up Actions

While resolution on food security provides for concept of limited negotiating group on grain reserves as per your reserves coordinating group proposal, conference did not establish group or name countries as we would have preferred. However, to have pursued this objective would have jeopardized favorable resolution language without likelihood conference would have established group.
It must be kept in mind that all WFC resolutions, including those on follow-up institutions, must be reviewed by ECOSOC and approved by UNGA. ECOSOC may review them as early as Nov. 29, and subsequently they will come up in Second Committee before going to [Page 965] floor of GA. We are generally satisfied with conference resolutions on follow-up and will work to ensure that no major alterations are made in New York. Along with IO, we will be developing guidance for USUN on this aspect.
Aside from immediate problem of keeping resolutions on track in New York, first priority is launching reserves and exporters groups. Through bilateral contacts during conference, agreement was generally reached on holding prenegotiation meeting of essential participants in reserves group at London during special International Wheat Council session early next year, since both US and others need time to formulate positions. We have encouraging but not definitive indications from Soviets about their participation. Prospects for PRC participation in reserves group, which is desirable but not essential for its functioning, seem dim in view of Chinese reservation on both food information and food security resolutions at WFC, on grounds these impinge upon national sovereignty.
In pursuing exporters group, we will talk to other exporters to deal with their suspicions and elaborate on what we think group needs to do in light of WFC outcome—again aiming toward meeting during special Wheat Council session. It may be that other exporters will not agree now to more than “informal caucus” of exporters in context of reserve system discussions, rather than more formal or separate exporters meeting.
In Tom Enders’ absence, I will convene this Friday2 initial meeting of working group of International Food Review Group to bring all agencies up-to-date on WFC results and our current policy objectives, and b) launch necessary interagency work on developing our position for initial meeting on food reserves.
We will also utilize coming state visits, especially Trudeau,3 to pursue WFC follow-up.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Director of the Office of Food Policy and Programs James Placke; cleared by Morris, Martin, Buffum and Eltz (S/S–O); and approved by Katz. Repeated Immediate to USOECD Paris and the Consulate in Frankfurt for Enders. Kissinger was accompanying President Ford on a state visit to Japan.
  2. November 22.
  3. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau visited Washington on December 4.