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15. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter 1

SUBJECT

  • Your Monday EPG Meeting on Shoes2

Because Cy Vance will not be here to attend your shoe meeting—which will discuss what is probably the single most important issue in the international economic area that you will have to confront during the first year of your Presidency—I want to note briefly a number of foreign policy considerations which Cy and I share.

First, shoes represent a vital export of countries with whom our economic, political and security relationship is extremely important. These include Italy, Spain, Brazil, Korea, Taiwan and Mexico. Many of these countries face extremely difficult financial situations, which they rely in part on their exports to remedy. Restricting their exports will further weaken their economies. It will also make them more difficult to deal with on any non-economic issues.

Second, the implications for the London Summit are very serious. Our imposing import restrictions will, as Prime Minister Callaghan pointed out to you, sour the atmosphere in which the Summit takes place. Further, it will put unbearable pressure on governments too weak to resist protectionist pressures, forcing them to follow our lead and impose restrictions of their own. You will therefore likely go to London in a climate of significantly rising protectionism, shifting the emphasis of the Summit from solidarity, and cooperative efforts to achieve economic stimulus, to bitter recriminations in the trade area.

Third, developing countries seeking to increase exports will bitterly resent this action. The result could well be a deterioration in the North-South dialogue and an undermining of the very constructive start you have made in strengthening U.S. relations with the developing world.

While I am told that you will probably not make a decision at this meeting, and know you will also have a range of domestic considerations to factor in, I thought these points worth your attention.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 78, Brzezinski, Chron—To/From President: 3–4/77. Confidential.
  2. March 28; see footnote 2, Document 14.