209. Editorial Note

On April 4, 1979, the European Communities (EC) Council of Ministers agreed that EC representatives at the Geneva multilateral trade negotiations could participate in the initialing of the final agreements, scheduled for April 11, pending the resolution of certain Italian reservations. (Telegram 6391 from USEC Brussels, April 4; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790154–0344) (Ultimately, Italy did not prevent the EC from initialing the agreements.) On April 12, the Trade Negotiations Committee, established in September 1973 to oversee the Tokyo Round of trade talks, declared an end to the negotiations (except those on safeguards, which were to continue) and opened the agreements for signing. (Telegram 6424 from Geneva, April 13; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790170–0893) The Head of the U.S. Delegation to the Multilateral Trade Negotiations, Alonzo McDonald, reported that the United States initialed the agreements on April 12 and “within the first two hours we were joined by some 20 additional countries, covering most of the developed world.” McDonald noted that the United States had concluded bilateral trade deals “with 41 different countries including 19 LDCs. This group represents the overwhelming majority of world trade and therefore assures solid support for full implementation of the agreements.” (Telegram 6380 from Geneva, April 12; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790168–1023)

The agreements that emerged from the Tokyo Round covered both tariff reductions and efforts to curb the use of non-tariff barriers. In the realm of tariffs, the United States concluded agreements with the EC, Japan, Canada, and a number of other developed and less developed countries. In the realm of non-tariff barriers, an increasingly widely [Page 609] used means of protectionism after three decades of tariff cuts negotiated under the aegis of the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the Tokyo Round resulted in a series of “codes.” These codes, adherence to which was voluntary, governed the use of subsidies and countervailing duties, standards and regulations, customs valuation techniques, government procurement, and the licensing of imports. Agreements were also reached on trade in civil aircraft, meat, and dairy products. (“Multilateral Trade Negotiations,” Department of State Bulletin, June 1979, pages 30–31) See also Document 216.

President Jimmy Carter welcomed the Tokyo Round agreements, asserting that they would “increase the opportunities of all nations, rich and poor, to exchange their goods under equitable conditions. Through such fair and open trade, we strengthen peace and trust in the world and make more efficient use of the world’s human and material resources.” Carter continued: “The agreements steer us away from destructive protectionism and into a path of greater export opportunities, with the prospects of new jobs, improved productivity, and increased industrial and agricultural production. The new opportunities that are thus developed will be realized through vigorous efforts by government, industry, and agriculture to promote exports.” For the text of Carter’s remarks, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1979, Book I, pages 662–663.