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


  • North-South Dialogue and the Summit

Attached are the North-South papers that you asked Dick Cooper to prepare.2 I recommend that you read his covering memo and the Summary of Issues at Tab A, which precedes an analysis of the possibilities for compromise. Tab B summarizes what your Administration has done so far in this field; Tab C contains the papers that Dick Cooper will discuss with the Jamaicans.

I agree with Dick that the central North-South issues are aid and trade. This is how the vast majority of resources move from industrial to developing countries. The other Summit countries believe these issues should be at the center of the Summit North-South agenda; they are emphasized in the draft Summit Declaration.3 It will be useful to press your Summit partners on trade and to join in what I sense to be their general desire to increase aid—e.g., by pledging more resources for multilateral banks and more aid to help LDCs produce energy.

But there are also foreign policy aspects to the North-South relationship. From this standpoint, commodity agreements and the Common Fund are important, even though there is not much that we can say about them at the Summit. Dick’s substantive conclusions on these issues make sense to me.

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Progress on aid, trade, and commodities will require a large expenditure of political capital. The Congress is now sitting in judgment not only on aid and (prospectively) on trade, but also on the International Coffee and Sugar Agreements and a US contribution to a buffer stock for the International Tin Agreement.4 Since our influence on the Congress is limited, we should focus on a few key issues. Even this may require an effort that is almost Panama Canal-ish in scope.5 Your own continuing involvement will be the key to success.

It would be helpful to know, at the meeting Dick recommends or otherwise, whether you agree that aid and trade should receive priority attention among North-South issues at the Summit. After the Summit, in light of its results and of Dick Cooper’s discussions with Jamaican leaders, we can do more staff work and recommend follow-up actions on these and other North-South issues that they will raise, such as the Common Fund and LDC participation in international consideration of economic issues.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Trip File, Box 13, President, Germany, 7/13–17/78: State Visit. Confidential. Sent for information. Brzezinski initialed at the top of the page.
  2. Not attached. See Document 310.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 148.
  4. The International Coffee, Sugar, and Tin Agreements regulated commodity prices and sales among their signatories, which included both importing and exporting nations. In 1975, the United States signed the then most recent version of the Coffee Agreement; in 1977, it signed the latest iteration of the Sugar Agreement; and in 1976, it signed the fifth iteration of the Tin Agreement.
  5. Reference is to the Carter administration’s effort to secure ratification of the Panama Canal Treaties. See footnote 4, Document 163.