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283. Memorandum From the Representative to the United Nations (Young) to President Carter 1


  • NSC Options Memorandum on Future Bilateral Development Assistance

The National Security Council has sent you an options memorandum on alternative U.S. bilateral aid strategies and alternative funding levels through FY–1982.2 The memorandum is based on the work of AID and the Brookings Institution in reviewing our aid policies. As you consider these options, I hope you keep in mind a very promising field of economic assistance to the developing world: support for regional economic groupings. Let me point to some of the possibilities in three regions.

Caribbean Basin:

United States interests in the Caribbean Basin continue to be endangered by the slow pace of economic development, rising population pressures and political polarization. There are considerable opportunities for greater economic development which could do much to diffuse the potential for trouble in this strategically placed region. The nations of the region already have built regional integration mechanisms: the Caribbean Common Market, the Central American Common Market; and the Andean Pact in South America, which includes the littoral nations of Colombia and Venezuela. The democratic and forward-looking leaders of the region—Perez of Venezuela, Oduber of Costa Rica, and Manley of Jamaica—have a vision for the region which is compatible with ours. We should support them. We should be prepared to strengthen these groupings through development assistance to their regional institutions, particularly the Caribbean and Central American Development Banks. We should also begin helping to build institutional bridges among the various groupings in the region.

Southeast Asia:

With the collapse of SEATO,3 the importance of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) takes on new meaning as it gives [Page 887]political cohesiveness to the area and a possible framework for future security cooperation. The Japanese have announced their own large technical cooperation and aid package for the ASEAN region as they seek to protect their markets and sources of raw materials. The United States has given only modest support for the regional institutions; allowing the Japanese complete freedom in the area may risk U.S. markets for exports and lose attractive investment opportunities for U.S. business.


Regional integration may be the only means of ensuring economic survival, let alone progress, for some of the poorer and politically insecure nations of the African continent. Especially given the mounting tensions in Rhodesia and South Africa, regional cooperation may be the only means of strengthening the economies and political security of countries such as Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania and Zaire. Once Zimbabwe and Namibia attain independence, substantial new opportunities for regional economic cooperation will arise which should be planned now and grasped when the independence comes if regional stability is to be maintained. Another promising venture in Africa is the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), strongly backed by Nigeria and the Ivory Coast and linking 16 anglophone and francophone West African states. We could evidence our support for regional cooperation in Africa by molding the special requirements fund and the Zimbabwe Development Fund toward regional development in southern Africa, supporting the African Development Fund in regional development projects and encouraging the new ECOWAS fund.

As you examine the various strategies put forward to you, I recommend that you request a further study and options concerning assistance to regional integration efforts in the developing world.


That you direct the NSC to chair a study and prepare options for you on assistance to regional economic groupings.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Agency File, Box 22, United Nations: 8–12/77. Confidential. Young did not initial the memorandum. A stamped notation reads: “The President has seen.”
  2. See the Attachment to Document 282.
  3. The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), which was established as a result of the September 1954 Manila Pact, ceased to exist in June 1977.
  4. Carter indicated his approval of this recommendation, writing below it: “Within existing AID study & ’79 budget effort. J.”