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International Economic Summit Meeting Remarks Following the Reading of the Joint Declaration.

May 08, 1977

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I think the great attention that's being paid to our deliberations and decisions by the world is accurately expressed by the attendance of the news media here. I think, however, it's good for all of us to remember that sometimes heads of state tend to overemphasize or overestimate our own influence.

Historical occurrences can remind us of this. There was a King of England who considered himself to be more influential than the actual fact. Three hundred and twenty-eight years ago, he had a struggle with the Parliament. He came to this building. And when he left, on orders of the Parliament he was beheaded in the street.

And I think this may 'not happen to us, but we have to remember--[laughter]--we have to remember that making decisions, even difficult ones, in unanimity, is not a guarantee that our decisions will be consummated.

I have been very fortunate on my first trip to meet with experienced leaders. Five of them have been finance ministers before becoming Presidents or Prime Ministers. I've learned a lot. I think it's accurate to say that we've made some far-reaching decisions, facing a world whose economic structure has changed.

We now face the constant prospect that the OPEC nations export about $45 billion worth of goods more than they import, which means that the consuming nations, including our own country, have to have a deficit of about $45 billion a year. Most of us can accommodate these deficits for the time 'being. But the poor and deprived nations of the world, who don't have the industrial capacity, can't do so.

The prime discussion that we had that created most problems was trade and how to seek and use new sources of energy. I think it's accurate to report that the leaders who were debating these points decided that there is no way to ensure future world prosperity unless we have a maximum degree of free trade among our countries. It's a great temptation in a time of high unemployment to erect protectionist barriers at our nations' borders. But after a great deal of discussion, we all decided that this was something that we want to avoid.

We also are now embarked upon a time when the use of nuclear energy is crucial to some nations who are not blessed with other kinds of fuel supplies. We are one of the supplier nations, along with Canada and others, of nuclear fuel.

We want to be sure that when we export these nuclear fuels, that they are not subsequently converted into explosives. And how to deal with this difficult question without encroaching upon the autonomy of nations who consumer this energy is a very difficult and sensitive question indeed.

We've agreed, as Prime Minister Callaghan has pointed .out, to study this problem for 2 months, to define the terms of reference and to assess the entire nuclear fuel cycle from the exploration for uranium and other supplies, the extraction of those supplies, the enrichment of the fuel, the transportation of it, the consumption of it to produce electricity, the handling of the waste products with care, and the ultimate disposal of waste is a very, very difficult assignment, which I believe for the first time has been addressed in a very frank fashion.

Another point that was discussed, which was not so far reported, is that we believe that a time has come for international control and prohibition against illegalities--bribery, extortion, and other actions that sometimes have 'been condoned in the field of trade, commerce, and banking.

I was very pleasantly impressed with the strong support of all the leaders of government in attempting, through the United Nations and through our own actions, to stamp out this embarrassment that has been brought upon the industrial world.

The last point I would like to make is this: We see very clearly a need for expanding the function of such institutions as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the regional banks, and of reaching out beyond our own group to our natural allies and friends with whom we have been associated in years gone by, and to welcome the very good attitude of the .oil-supplying nations like Saudi Arabia and others who are now seeking not only to supply aid for developing countries but who want to participate with us in making decisions commensurate with their own economic influence.

And I think we've taken a good step forward in addition to that, as has been pointed out, in inviting in a congenial way the Communist countries and the Socialist countries, like the Soviet Union, to join with us in trying to provide studies of very difficult questions that concern us all, and also providing aid to those nations which are much less fortunate.

We have resolved to continue the function of the highly skilled persons who prepared for this conference. They will follow up to be sure that our conference has not been an idle discussion and not just consummated when we issue a very unanimous report. And I believe that this will be an innovation which will remind us all in the months and weeks ahead, as we go back home, that we have obligations to fulfill, and in many ways our own reputations are at stake, to carry out the promises that we are now making this afternoon to the world who looks to us for the solution of these difficult problems.

I want to express my own thanks to Prime Minister Callaghan and to all those who helped to make this conference so successful. I'm very deeply grateful to them and to my colleagues on this platform who helped me learn at firsthand the wealth of their knowledge and background and experience. They've been very gracious to me.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:25 p.m. in the Council Room at Banqueting House.

The meeting, at which each head of state or government made a statement concerning the 2 days of meetings, was chaired by British Prime Minister James Callaghan.

Jimmy Carter, International Economic Summit Meeting Remarks Following the Reading of the Joint Declaration. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244123

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