Strauss and Soviet Trade

Former Democratic Party National Chairman Robert S. Strauss, President Carter’s chief foreign trade negotiator with the rank of Ambassador, does not give a positive “yes” of support to the Jackson-Vanik section of the U.S. Trade Reform Act.

In line with expressions, usually private, of other high Administration officials. Strauss indicates that the law tying U.S. trade benefits to the Soviet Union’s emigration policy is an open issue. This also is the known position of Arthur Hartman, the Assistant Secretary of State for Europe.

Before coming to his present post, Strauss told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview: “I could have emotional and historical views and the prejudices from that. Now, with my present responsibilities, I must be absolutely certain that I am looking at it (Jackson-Vanik) from the standpoint of the whole America. I will take a purely critical and analytical look and I will speak out when I have the authority.”

Strauss, who is Jewish, did not say he opposed Jackson-Vanik and neither did the officials who briefed reporters just before they left Washington for Moscow with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance for his meeting with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance for his meeting with Soviet leaders that floundered over nuclear weaponry.

Like other subjects of prime U.S. importance, the trade law and the Export-Import Bank restrictions on credits to the Soviet government are under review within the Administration. Strauss’ comments to the JTA came after the Soviet-American meetings in Moscow. He was confirmed to his present post two weeks ago.

NO SIGN OF SEEKING REVISION

At the Capitol, Congressional sources emphasized that the Administration has given no indication of seeking a revision of these legal measures affecting trade and human rights. They observed Carter’s firmness on human rights while acknowledging his belief that human rights is an issue by itself. The implication of this, it was acknowledged, may be a separation of this, it was acknowledged, may be a separation of emigration from trade policy.

In what may be another clue to Strauss’ thinking, he told another interviewer prior to his chat with JTA that free trade is not an end in itself but involves trade-offs and options in the economy.

Congressional sources believe that in view of the current state of Soviet-American affairs, the Administration would not want to arouse Congress on Soviet trade “at least for the time being,” as one source put it. From all accounts thus far, the Jackson-Vanik and Export-import Bank restrictions did not arise in an important way during Vance’s talks in Moscow. Like the Carter Administration, the Kremlin does not seem to want to arouse Congress either, analysts indicated.

This analysis seems to be borne out by the content of Soviet commentaries that concentrate on nuclear weaponry and opposition to “internal interference” but without emphasis on the U.S. laws that affect trade.

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