1973 – Hewlett Speeches

Box 3, Folder 11 – General Speeches


June 1, 1973 – “Did I make the Right Decision,” Commencement Speech, Polytechnic Institute of New York, Brooklyn, NY


6/1/73, Copy of typewritten text of speech


This speech is essentially the same as that given at Brigham Young University on February 14, 1963, so it is not repeated here.



Box 3, Folder 12 – General Speeches


September 20, 1973 – “Current and Future Commercial Relations with Russia,” East-West Trade Panel, International Industrial Conference, San Francisco, CA

9/30/73, Copy of the typewritten text of Hewlett’s speech


Hewlett says he intends to discuss trade relations with the U.S.S.R. from the U.S. standpoint. He starts by reviewing the background of trade relations between the two countries, listing the turning points of  this relationship as it developed over the years. He mentions:


1811 – Russia was taking one-tenth of the total exports from the U.S., and was a major supplier of marine stores to the U.S.

1832 – A treaty on navigation and commerce between the two countries was signed granting Most Favored Nation status to each nation.

1911 – This MFN Agreement was abrogated by the United States because of Russia’s policy of restricting the immigration of Jews from Russia.

1920 – Although World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution isolated Russia from the West, Herbert Hoover’s American Relief Administration spent $20 million dollars of Congressional appropriations sending grain to famine-stricken Russian peasants.

1931 – The Soviet market was taking two-thirds of all U.S. exports of agricultural equipment and power-driven metal-working machinery.

1934- The Soviet Regime, under Stalin, was recognized by the U.S. In 1933, and in 1934 the Export-Import Bank was established  expressly to finance trade with the U.S.S.R.

1936 – The U.S.S.R. granted MFN status

Following World War II, the advent of the Cold War brought a sharp decline in commercial relations between the two countries. The U.S. judged the Soviet Union to be in default because of transactions resulting from the wind-up of the Lend-Lease program.

1951 – Increasingly restrictive measures by the U.S. had limited trade with communist countries, and in 1951 MFN status for all was revoked.

1959 – Earlier, President Eisenhower had decontrolled 700 commodity items for export to the U.S.S.R. and Krushchev visited the U.S.

1964 – Senate hearings on East-West trade revealed considerable interest within the U.S. to loosen restrictions. The Johnson Administration removed a large number of nonstrategic items from the controlled list. $110 million wheat sale to the Soviet Union by the U.S.

1966 – East-West Trade Relations Act was an effort to extend MFN status to communist countries, failed due to Vietnam War climate. The Nixon Administration continued to try and liberalize trade restrictions.

1969 – U.S. exports to the U.S.S.R. had doubled over preceding years, surpassing $100 million for the first time since the 1964 wheat sale. Soviet Five-Year Plan stresses their need for the development of its electronics, chemical and consumer industries.

1971/1972 -Secretary  of Commerce Stans and Soviet Union Minister of Foreign Trade Patolichev exchange visits.

1972, President Nixon visits Secretary General Brezhnev in Moscow, resulting in agreement on trade relations between the two countries. One principle included stated “The United States and the Soviet Union regard commercial and economic ties as an important and necessary element in the strengthening of their bilateral relations, and thus will actively promote the growth of such ties. They will facilitate cooperation between the relevant organizations and enterprises of the two countries and the conclusions of appropriate agreements and contracts, including long-term ones.” This was followed by several agreements concerning grain, settlement of debts, and scientific cooperation and so forth.


In reviewing the status of current trade relations Hewlett says “…it is evident that each country has strong reasons for wanting to expand both trade and technical cooperation with each other. The U.S. sees the Soviet Union as a major trade partner….On the other side of the ledger, the U.S.S.R. has real need for more East-West trade.”


Hewlett gives some production figures to illustrate the gap  between the Soviet productivity and that of the U.S. “It was apparent by 1972,” he says, “that the Soviet economy was lagging badly behind plan. The GNP had only risen about two percent….Crops, ferrous metals, and chemical products had slid badly, and natural gas production was down for the first time in 20 years. It should have come as no surprise, therefore, that the Soviets were so receptive to U.S. proposals for improvement in trade relations.


However, MFN status remains a problem Hewlett says, and adds that Congress wants to place a condition on MFN status pending a “more reasonable approach by the Soviets to the [Jewish] exit visa problem. It would be a mistake to assume that these [proposed conditions] spring solely from the Jewish community. I think that the average American with a tradition of freedom of movement has a very hard time understanding the Soviet position on this point. I do not feel that this problem will go away easily.”


Hewlett discusses the problems U.S. exporters have dealing with the Soviet Union where most trade is carried on through foreign trade organizations, who speak for the total demands of the country. “The American businessman,” Hewlett says, “ is used to talking directly with the customer and ascertaining firsthand the customer’s problems. It can at times become extremely difficult to have to work through these FTOs although they are a basic part of the system.”


Hewlett says he feels this lack of “direct, personal contact between the American businessman and his Soviet counterpart” is one of the “greatest obstacles” to increased trade with the Soviet Union.


“It seems obvious to us,” Hewlett says, “that any long-term trading relationships must depend upon some form of quid pro quo. If the Soviets are going to purchase any reasonable quantity of goods with their limited foreign exchange, they must get something in return—either technical know-how, the right to manufacture certain products, or some method of earning foreign exchange. These are not easy problems to solve and we are currently wrestling with them.”


Hewlett says he thinks it an be said that “political considerations are often more important to trade relations with a socialist state than would be the case with trade between free market countries.


“As I pointed out at the beginning of my presentation, the relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union has had a long background of being up and down. I have no reason to believe that history will not repeat itself, and there will be occasions when the current détente may be set aside for political reasons. But in the long-run, I feel that economic pressures will prevail and that the United States and the Soviet Union, whether they like it or not, will find themselves as important trading partners.”