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329. Memorandum From Guy Erb of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) and the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen)1

SUBJECT

  • UNCTAD V (U)

A major “North-South” event, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, began this week.2 The U.S. approach to this meeting (Tab A)3 reflects our straitened circumstances and a reluctance to let the UNCTAD secretariat work in areas that are the provinces of other institutions, in particular, the International Monetary Fund and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. (C)

Two previous UNCTAD meetings agreed on measures of some significance: UNCTAD II (1968) launched the generalized system of tariff preferences and UNCTAD IV (1976) agreed on a commodity program that eventually led to the recently negotiated framework for the common fund.4 This conference’s most likely results will be institutional, for example, the establishment of an expert group that may supplant the U.N. General Assembly’s Committee of the Whole. (U)

Reform of the IMF’s compensatory finance facility should receive a boost from the Manila meeting. The U.S. delegation will resist any UNCTAD incursion into this matter but can indicate our willingness to consider liberalization of the facility. The conference may also give some impetus to guarantees of LDC borrowings from private capital markets. You can expect some fireworks about the “failure” of the [Page 1040] MTN to benefit developing countries. We will try to channel such criticisms toward a constructive UNCTAD work program on trade while encouraging the LDCs to join in the implementation of the MTN in order to maximize their gains from the trade codes that were agreed in Geneva.5 (C)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 108, North-South Policy: 1979. Confidential. Sent for information. A copy was sent to the North/South Cluster of the NSC Staff. A stamped notation reads: “ZB has seen.”
  2. UNCTAD V opened in Manila on May 7.
  3. Tab A, attached but not printed, is a copy of telegram 115254 to selected posts, May 5, on “U.S. Positions on Key UNCTAD V Issues.” Katz forwarded an UNCTAD strategy memorandum to Vance under cover of an April 18 memorandum; Lake commented on the strategy memorandum in an April 19 memorandum to Vance. (National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Official Working Papers of S/P Director Anthony Lake, 1977–January 1981, Lot 82D298, Box 5, S/P-Lake Papers—4/16–30/79)
  4. Negotiations on the Common Fund, held in Geneva March 12–20, resulted in agreement on a framework for the fund. Telegram 4845 from Geneva, March 21, transmitted the text of the conference resolution, an accompanying annex entitled “Fundamental Elements of the Common Fund,” and the U.S. statement on the annex and the negotiating conference. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790131–1196)
  5. The Tokyo Round of multilateral trade negotiations concluded on April 12 in Geneva; see Document 209.