137. Editorial Note

On June 19 and 20, 1978, the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations, Robert Strauss, and other U.S. officials met with representatives from the European Communities (EC), Japan, and Canada in Washington for a discussion of the status of the multilateral trade negotiations (MTN). No memoranda of conversation of these discussions were found. A summary of the talks, included in a weekly status report by the Office of Economic Policy, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, noted that they “were designed to clarify MTN issues before the final three weeks of bargaining. Each side explained its position and listed the top priorities it felt it needed for a settlement.” The participants also “confirmed that July 15 is the deadline for the MTN and agreed on a stringent timetable for drafting and decision-making to meet that date.” (Telegram 163753 to all East Asian and Pacific diplomatic posts, June 27; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780267–0486) Speaking to the press, Strauss said: “We now have in hard and final form what the bottom line is for each of the constituencies we represent.” (Clyde H. Farnsworth, “Key Nations Supporting Tariff Cuts,” The New York Times, June 21, 1978, page D1)

On June 23, the Special Representative for Economic Summits, Henry Owen, recommended, at Strauss’ request, that President Jimmy Carter send letters to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda asking them to address outstanding trade issues. (Memorandum from Owen to Carter, June 23; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 11, Japan: Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, 1–12/78) In a June 26 letter to Trudeau, Carter asserted the necessity of redressing the “imbalance between our tariff offers on both industrial and agricultural items,” noting that the United States “badly needs an improvement in the Canadian offer if our offer is to stand.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 3, Canada: Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1/77–8/78) In a June 26 letter to Fukuda, Carter stressed the need “to improve access for agricultural products, reduce industrial tariffs, and reach agreement on such issues as government procurement and a meaningful code on subsidies” and called for “Japanese leadership in liberalizing trade.” In particular, Carter asserted to Fukuda that “improvements in your negotiators’ offer in Geneva and other efforts to liberalize access to Japan’s import market are essential, if agreement is to be reached before the Bonn meeting on the main unresolved issues in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations.” Noting Japan’s interest in a U.S. pledge to limit oil imports, Carter noted that his ability to offer that pledge at Bonn “de [Page 422] pends, in good part, on what actions other countries are prepared to take on growth, trade, and aid.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 11, Japan: Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, 1–12/78)

In his June 23 memorandum, Owen also noted Strauss’ recommendation that Carter discuss the trade negotiations with British Prime Minister James Callaghan, who made a private visit to the United States on June 26. Earlier that month, on June 5, Carter had sent Callaghan a handwritten note that reads: “Without your active help, prospects for substantive achievement in Multilateral Trade Negotiations are not good. Can you join us in a more concerted effort?” (Carter Library, Plains File, President’s Personal Foreign Affairs File, Box 2, Great Britain, 6/77–12/80) Callaghan’s response, which Owen forwarded to Carter under cover of another June 23 memorandum, noted that he was “well aware of the importance of” the trade talks and asserted that “obviously there must be a good deal of give and take, not just from Europe on matters of concern to the United States, but from the United States on issues to which we attach importance.” In his cover memorandum, Owen reported that British Ambassador to the United States Peter Jay believed that Callaghan’s reply suggested “that the P.M. is prepared for a deal: He will give on trade if the US gives ‘on issues to which we attach importance.’” Owen suggested that Carter tell Callaghan that the United States could “make a meaningful pledge on limiting oil imports if other Summit countries can make equally meaningful pledges on growth and trade.”

Owen’s June 23 memorandum also relayed Strauss’ talking points for Carter’s conversation with Callaghan: “We are missing the essential elements of a deal. The US is being responsive to your concerns, but needs help with respect to its needs. We hope that the UK will be able to support efforts by the Commission to work out acceptable solutions in each of these areas on a reciprocal basis: meaningful rules on subsidies; market access for a number of US agricultural products; tariff and non-tariff barrier reductions for US industrial exports; and allowing exporters to compete for foreign government procurement.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 15, Great Britain: 4–8/78)

Carter and Callaghan held a breakfast meeting on the patio outside Carter’s private office on June 26 from 7:26 until 8:35 a.m. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) No record of the meeting was found.