323. Letter From President Nixon to British Prime Minister Wilson 1

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

It was thoughtful of you to follow up on our January conversations2 and send me fuller details of your views on our textile import problem.3 Your letter and note were very helpful in outlining the possibilities as you see them.

My Administration wants to leave no doubt that it shares your commitment to freer international trade; my messages to Congress and public statements have reiterated this theme. As the world’s largest trading nation, the United States cannot but be conscious that expansion and freeing of trade among nations are of very great importance to all of us. We ourselves would suffer heavily from a general increase in world trade barriers, or in damage to the system of liberal world trading rules.

I feel a heavy responsibility for the role of the United States in this process, and I expect that role to be in support of a broader exchange of goods. Both our narrow economic interests and our foreign relations reinforce each other in that choice. The United Kingdom has played a unique role as a valuable contributor to the success we have had in maintaining this path during the past several years, and I am happy to see from your letter that you intend to continue this direction in the future.

At the same time, I have said that we must reach a satisfactory solution to the very special case of textiles to enable us to maintain effectively our overall pursuit of freer trade. The growth of textile imports has been so rapid, and its effect on our own industry so heavy, that the Administration has no choice but to seek effective relief. I believe that the course we are following, and the conversations we are engaged in, [Page 978] will do that without adverse effect on the movement toward freer world trading arrangements. This is one of our main considerations.

These conversations are now at an advanced stage, and I hope that I may feel free to take advantage of your interest and write to you in greater detail on this subject at a later date.

Your frankness is appreciated, and I particularly value your offer to assist us in working out a solution to this problem, which has been of such concern to wide segments of this country.4


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 763, Presidential Correspondence, United Kingdom Prime Minister Wilson Corres. No classification marking.
  2. See Documents 320322.
  3. In a March 9 letter to the President, accompanied by an aide-mémoire, Wilson argued that textile exporting countries were arriving at the view that “the U.S. Government are seeking to establish restraints on almost all non-cotton textiles when no convincing evidence has been produced which shows that the American textile industry as a whole is threatened with serious injury.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 763, Presidential Correspondence, United Kingdom Prime Minister Wilson Corres.)
  4. In an April 13 letter to the President, Wilson welcomed Nixon’s assurances of U.S. commitments to free trade, suggested further discussions, and reiterated the British willingness to join with the United States and other countries “seeking solutions for any immediate difficulties where serious injury exists or threatens.” (Ibid.)