New Interest in East-West Trade
Trade Factors in Nixon's Trips to China, Russia
Slowly, over the Past year, a strong push has developed for opening up large-scale commercial contacts with Communist nations. The major thrust emanates from the Commerce Department and the business community. Another body of opinion, centered in Congress and organized labor, wants nothing whatever to do with the Communists. The pros and cons are likely to be threshed out in this election year. There already are indications that trade with China, Russia and Eastern Europe will become a presidential campaign issue. Mayor Sam Yorty of Los Angeles, a Democratic presidential hopeful, already has argued strongly against any lowering of the barriers against East-West trade.
The administration's viewpoint is clear. President Nixon's scheduled visits to Peking Feb. 21–28 and Moscow in May are proof that he is working toward that improvement in diplomatic relations which he has long maintained should precede increased trade with Communist countries. A few large business deals—unthinkable only a few years ago—have already been signed with Russian officials, including a $125 million agreement concluded last October for the exchange of American mining and oil-drilling equipment for Soviet metals.
Nixon's efforts to better the mood of East-West contacts can be traced back at least to the end of 1969 when he began removing some of the restrictions on travel to and trade with the People's Republic of China. The tempo of the policy shift increased with the visit of Secretary of Commerce Maurice H. Stans to several East European countries and the Soviet Union during November 1971. In Moscow, Stans handed Premier Alexsei N. Kosygin a letter from President Nixon “expressing hope that there could be better commercial ties” between the superpowers. When interviewed upon his return, Stans said U.S.-Soviet trade could multiply.