351. Memorandum From the Director of the International Development Cooperation Agency (Ehrlich) to President Carter1


  • Brandt Commission Report

As you directed, the International Development Cooperation Agency (IDCA) has led an interagency review of the Report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues chaired by Willy Brandt.2 A preliminary report on this review was submitted to you before the Venice Summit.3 The attached memorandum summarizes the conclusions of the interagency review.4

Based on the review, we now plan to develop several initiatives for consideration at the start of your next term. These include:

  • —a program of increased concessional assistance for low-income countries to meet specific food, energy and population objectives.
  • —A Coal for Peace and Development Program which, in the context of expanded U.S. coal export capacity, would help developing countries increase their use of coal as an alternative to high priced oil.
  • —New ways to help increase food and agricultural productivity in developing countries and to provide support to help meet rising food import needs over the period required for development efforts to take effect.
  • —An international population initiative aimed at doubling in the 1980s the availability and use of family planning and related health services in developing countries.

In addition, we are reviewing our position on a new international wheat agreement, and will be considering additional measures that may be needed to promote greater world food security.

We should continue to support actively an increased role for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in promoting adjustment and growth and seek the changes needed to increase their financing roles.

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Finally, we should continue to take actions that foster a more open trading system. Thus, in addition to implementing agreements reached in the Multilateral Trade Negotiations, we should consider revision and extension of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences, renegotiation of the Multifiber Arrangement,5 and a request for new authority from Congress to engage in further bilateral tariff negotiations with individual developing countries after current authority expires in 1981.

Some of the measures being considered—particularly those dealing with change within the international financial institutions and with trade—would not require any substantial new, budgetary outlays on our part. Indeed, in the long-run, trade and financial reforms should contribute to greater U.S. and global economic growth. We cannot hope, however, to make the full amount of progress that is both needed and feasible—in such important areas as food and energy—without taking other actions that will require additional funds. Much of the incremental funding can and should come from OPEC countries, but we and other developed countries will have to provide some additional resources ourselves.

The reports of both your Commission on World Hunger6 and Task Force on Global Resources and Environment7 address from different perspectives a number of the same issues explored by the Brandt Commission. The common problems include hunger, population growth, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. A call to eliminate widespread poverty is the central recommendation of all three reports. It is the cause of world hunger and it contributes to the most acute environmental dangers, such as the loss of soil and forests.

All three Reports also emphasize the need for greater public understanding of the long term issues and greater support for foreign assistance. We are closely coordinating our efforts on review of the Brandt Report with the work of the Task Force and with follow-up on the Hunger Report to ensure the presentation to you of a consistent set [Page 1105] of recommendations. In cooperation with Anne Wexler and various agencies we have also begun a series of public information efforts that stress the importance of our economic relations with the developing world. In association with the White House Press Office, we are working to increase the attention that Administration officials give to foreign assistance in their public speaking activities, as well as the priority given to this subject in the full range of public affairs activities. The effort is a long-term one and we will continue to rely heavily on your interest and public support.

These measures are in the U.S. national interest. Taken together, they should help to shape the world’s future, as Willy Brandt has said, “in peace and welfare, in solidarity and dignity.”

Thomas Ehrlich8
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 58, Chron: 9/10–20/80. Confidential.
  2. Carter’s instructions were not found, but see Document 345.
  3. The preliminary report was not found. The Venice G–7 Summit was held June 22–23.
  4. Attached but not printed is a September 15 IDCA paper entitled “Interagency Review of the Report of the Independent Commission of Development Issues under the Chairmanship of Willy Brandt—Report to the President.”
  5. See Document 8.
  6. In March 1980, the Presidential Commission on World Hunger issued its final report, “Overcoming World Hunger: The Challenge Ahead, Report of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger—March 1980.” For the text of Carter’s April 26 statement on the report, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1980–81, Book I, p. 777. Documentation on the Commission and its report is printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. II, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.
  7. On July 24, the Department of State and the Council on Environmental Quality issued a joint report on environmental issues, “Global 2000 Report to the President.” Documentation on the report is ibid. On that same day, Carter issued a statement on the report and also announced the establishment of a Presidential Task Force on Global Resources and Environment. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1980–81, Book II, pp. 1415–1416) The Presidential Task Force on Global Resources and Environment released its final report, “Global Future: Time to Act,” in January 1981. (“Ideas & Trends,” The New York Times, January 18, 1981, p. E8)
  8. Ehrlich signed “Tom Ehrlich” above this typed signature.