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211. Memorandum From the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen) to President Carter 1

SUBJECT

  • Attitudes of US Businessmen Toward Tokyo Summit (U)

Last Friday2 I had a session with six top business leaders assembled by the Chamber of Commerce to provide suggestions about the upcoming Summit. You might be interested in their main concerns:

1. Japan. They argued strongly for action to reduce Japan’s current account surplus and to open Japan’s market more widely to our exports. Don Kendall3 suggested that the US, as Japan’s biggest trading partner, should tell Japan that its current account surplus had to be down to zero by a date certain, and that the US would apply import restrictions if this goal was not achieved. I told them of our plans for using the Ohira visit4 to reach an agreement about Japanese medium-term economic policy, and this seemed to mollify them somewhat. (C)

2. Energy. Several spoke of the need for Summit agreement on energy—to reduce consumption and increase production, to try to work out a common pricing strategy among Summit countries, and to spur energy R&D. They commended your decontrol decision as “gutsy.”5 (C)

3. Macro-Economic Policy. Several wanted a Summit call for adoption of tax and other policies by the Summit countries to encourage private investment. (C)

4. Follow-Up. James Wolfensohn (Salomon Brothers) observed that “the President should bring home the Tokyo Economic Summit message about energy and macro-economic policy, explain this message to the American people, and show that he is keying his domestic economic policies to these decisions.” Lee Morgan (Caterpillar Tractor) said that this kind of Tokyo Summit follow-up would produce a favorable impact on world currency markets and on business confidence. (C)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Trip File, Box 24, President, Far East, 6/23/79–7/1/79: Cables and Memos, 3–5/79. Confidential. Sent for information.
  2. April 20.
  3. Donald Kendall was President and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, Inc.
  4. Ohira made an official visit to Washington April 30–May 4. See Document 212.
  5. On April 5, Carter announced his decision to begin the phased decontrol of oil prices in June. For the text of his announcement, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1979, Book I, pp. 609–614.