Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
United States Department of State
December 23, 2009
The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Volume XXXI, Foreign Economic Policy, 1973-1976. This volume documents the major decisions of Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford in the realm of foreign economic policy, focusing in particular on international monetary relations, international trade policy, and efforts to redress global economic inequalities.
By the time of Richard Nixon’s second inauguration in January 1973, there was a clear need to reform the international monetary system. The system of fixed exchange rates envisaged at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference had been under pressure for some time; indeed, it had already broken down in the wake of the Nixon administration’s August 1971 New Economic Policy, only to be restored by the Smithsonian Agreement of December 1971. The final collapse of the fixed exchange rate system is chronicled in the volume’s first chapter, which examines the exchange crises of February and March 1973. Efforts to restructure the international monetary system, with particular emphasis on the issues of exchange rate flexibility and the role of gold, are examined in the volume’s second chapter. The third and fourth chapters document the origins of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit, an initiative that arose out of the unsettled international monetary environment and the more general economic decline in the industrialized world.
The fifth chapter, which covers trade policy, demonstrates more than any other chapter in the volume the influence of domestic politics on U.S. foreign relations. The chapter documents the White House’s struggle to secure passage of a major piece of trade reform legislation, the Trade Act of 1974, in the face of significant domestic opposition. The most serious challenge faced by the Nixon and Ford administrations was that posed by the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which was designed to link extension of most favored nation (MFN) status to the Soviet Union with its policies on Jewish emigration. The chapter also documents the beginning of the Tokyo Round of trade negotiations, held under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), with particular emphasis on the role of agriculture in those negotiations. The Nixon administration’s 1973 decision to impose export controls, as well as foreign fears of U.S. protectionism, are also covered in this chapter.
The volume’s sixth, and final, chapter examines commodity policy and North-South relations. It chronicles the United States attempts to grapple with the global trade in primary commodities in a post-1973 oil embargo world, as well as its efforts to redress persistent economic disparities between the industrialized countries of the northern hemisphere and the less developed countries of the south.
Like all recent Foreign Relations volumes, the emphasis of this volume is on the formulation of policy, rather than on its implementation or on day-to-day diplomacy. As in other volumes in the Nixon-Ford subseries, the National Security Council and the Department of State play key roles in the policy making process; however, in this volume, other agencies and offices, such as the Department of Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Office of the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations, are also prominent.
The volume is available as a downloadable PDF on the Office of the Historian website at http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76v31. Hard copies of the volume will be available in early 2010 for purchase from the U.S. Government Printing Office online at http://bookstore.gpo.gov (GPO S/N 044-000-02615-5; ISBN 978-0-16-084410-2), or by calling toll-free 1-866-512-1800 (D.C. area 202-512-1800). For further information please contact the Office of the Historian at mailto:email@example.com.