151. Memorandum From the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen) to President Carter1


  • National Export Policy

Juanita Kreps is sending you the recommendations of the inter-agency task force on means to increase US exports.2

Increased exports are essential if we are to reduce the current account deficit. Other measures (energy, anti-inflation, etc.) will help, but they cannot do the job alone.

Juanita Kreps’ recommendations would put us on the road to improved export performance, which the US pledged to seek in the [Page 480] Summit Declaration. No doubt there are arguments against each recommendation. But unless the essential package is approved, they will not have the desired effect. A few isolated actions will not do the job.

If you approve the package, it would be good if it could be announced as such, with a certain amount of fanfare. This would give you an opportunity to make clear that promoting exports is a goal to which you assign the highest priority. To underline this point, you might indicate your willingness, which you mentioned a while back, to spend a day with the fifty State governors discussing how each of them could improve his or her State’s export promotion. Export promotion has been the step-child for the US Government and, I suspect, for US business for so long that only strong Presidential leadership, coupled with concrete measures to stimulate exports, will turn the situation around.

Expanding US exports should be politically popular. You would be the first President in recent history to take effective action to create a national export policy, which would mean more jobs for more Americans.

I do not want to overstate the merits of Secretary Kreps’ proposal, because the measures proposed are modest. But they are a beginning and, if presented as such, would be well received by business and the public generally.

There is one recommendation in this report on which I do not feel competent to comment: the proposal for a shift in policy regarding use of export controls as a foreign policy tool (Item #7). This raises issues with wider implications, which I have not studied sufficiently to judge. Otherwise, I recommend approval of the report.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 91, Export Controls: (National Export Policy): 8/77–7/78. Confidential. Sent for information.
  2. See footnote 14, Document 119. No memorandum from Kreps to Carter with the recommendations of the task force, which was headed by Frank Weil, was found, but see Document 15.