32. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

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  • U.S. Wheat for Bangladesh

The government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is losing the confidence of the people as economic problems continue to go unsolved and the expectations of a newly-independent people are unrealized.

Availability of food, especially rice, at stable prices is essential to the preservation of the authority of the BDG and of law and order in the major urban areas of Dacca and Chittagong. Should government stocks be exhausted, civil unrest is expected to follow, with unpredictable consequences for the present BDG, and for stability in South Asia.

Bangladesh needs an estimated 2.5 million tons of food-grain imports in calendar year 1973 in order to maintain subsistence levels for its population. Against this need the BDG has purchased some 1.1 million tons on world markets, has pledges from countries other than the U.S. for almost 700,000 tons, and has a pledge from the USG for the remaining 700,000 tons, 200,000 tons of which were shipped early in the year.

The USG intends to finance the remainder of its pledge through the use of bilateral grant funds for 200,000 tons, and under PL–480, Title I for 300,000 tons. All of it should he made available for distribution during the period of the greatest scarcity immediately preceding the main annual rice harvest in late November and December. In order to meet this schedule shipments must be completed from U.S. ports during the first quarter of FY–1974 (i.e. not later than September 1973).

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Because of the unusually tight U.S. grain position, USDA has not been able to set an allocation for foodgrains to be made available worldwide under congressional financing in FY–1974, nor even for the first quarter of FY–1974. No decision is expected until July 6, making it virtually impossible to meet the Bangladesh requirement on a timely basis. Furthermore, the allocation levels presently being discussed for the first quarter of FY–1974 are too low to permit Bangladesh to get more than 300,000 tons.

In order to meet our commitment, shipments of wheat must leave U.S. ports for Bangladesh early in July. It is recommended that an exception be made permitting shipment of at least 100,000 tons of wheat in advance of decisions scheduled for July 6 on the overall scale of the Title I program.

Theodore L. Eliot, Jr.
Executive Secretary
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, AID (U.S.) 15–8 Bangladesh. Limited Official Use. It was drafted by Lawrence Lesser (NEA/PAB); and cleared by NEA, NEA/PAB, EB/OFP, and AID/ASIA/DP. R. H. Miller signed his name above Theodore Eliot’s typed signature.
  2. The memorandum discussed the relationship between stability and the provision of food aid. The tight U.S. grain supply posed a problem for the fulfillment of U.S. aid pledges for fiscal 1973–74.