WASHINGTON (Jun. 19)
Congressional sources expressed “shock” last week at Secretary of State Cyrus Vance’s remark that Congress is responsible for lessening Soviet-American trade because of the Jackson-Vanik provisions in the U.S. Trade Act. These sources emphasized to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that President Carter in a letter to Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D. Wash) during the election campaign firmly committed his administration to implementing the provisions which link U.S. credits to the Soviet government to Soviet emigration policy.
Vance told reporters upon ending a three-day visit to the Organization of American States General Assembly in St. George’s, Grenada last Thursday that he expects trade next year will be “substantially less” than this year and “one of the factors that affects this, of course, is the question of most-favored-nation treatment to the Soviet Union.”
“At the present time that is precluded by a Congressional amendment,” Vance continued, according to a transcript of his news conference obtained by the JTA at the State Department, “and as I look at the situation now on Capitol Hill, I think in the climate which exists that it would be impossible to have that amendment removed. Therefore, I think it is not likely in the near future. However, I would hope that in time this could be done.”
Under questioning from reporters in Washington, State Department spokesman John Trattner said “the important point is that it is up to the Soviet Union to move to improve the climate surrounding the Jackson-Vanik amendment and I think the future of that climate is up to them.”
Privately, an authoritative Department official said that “repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment is not a policy consideration at this time.” He refused however to put this statement on the public record. When it was noted that Vance had expressed “hope” it would be lifted, the source said that the “hope was over a period of time. In a different climate this would be a desirable consideration.”