Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1979

Author: Jimmy Carter  | Date: June 29, 1979

Tokyo Economic Summit Conference
Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters.
June 29, 1979

THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, let me make an opening comment, and then you can ask questions. I’ll be brief.

First of all, the Japanese did a superb job, under very difficult circumstances, in putting together arrangements for my state visit and also for a very important conference. Secondly, I thought the results of the economic summit conference were superb. They equaled our highest expectations, and we accomplished several important goals.

First of all—and this was the most controversial all the way through—specific, tangible, individual nations’ quotas or goals or imports for 1979, 1980, and extending through 1985. The individual European quotas will be assigned to those countries at the next European Community meeting in Dublin this fall, and thenthe European Community will be responsible for monitoring those goals. The cumulative total will not exceed their 1978 import levels.

We, the Canadians, and the Japanese also adopted goals. Our 1985 goal for imports will not exceed the lower of either 1977 or 1979, no more than 8.5 million barrels per day.

The second thing that we did was to commit ourselves individually and jointly to pursue, with the full resources of our nations, the development of alternative forms of energy.

The third thing we did about energy was to issue, for the first time, a very significant comment about the OPEC nations’ recent actions. I won’t go into that now. My guess is that that will be the most newsworthy item. It’s the first time that the other nations of the world have expressed ourselves clearly and forcefully about the unwarranted increases in oil prices levied against the rest of the world by the OPEC countries. The fact that seven industrialized nations have agreed on the text jointly, I think, is significant.

We also aroused, I think, a great deal of interest in the refugee question. We called upon Vietnam to restrain the outflow of refugees and to minimize its impact on the people concerned, particularly the refugees themselves. We have agreed to double our own monthly quota of refugees coming from Vietnam. The Japanese have agreed to double the percentage of financing for the United Nations High Commissioner’s fund on refugees.

There were other elements in the Communiqué that will be issued when we get back to the New Otani Hotel, but those were the most significant items. Perhaps you would have a followup question.

Q. It sounds like you won your point—


Q.— in terms of the ceilings and the freeze, that they took the American plan. Is that basically it?

THE PRESIDENT. They did, and we were gratified at this.

Q. Was there a fight about it?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there was a constant debate. I think the problem was that the European Community had decided collectively at Strasbourg not to deviate from the collective target. This was a much less restrictive target, because they could absorb the increased production from the North Sea and not be limited to individual countries’ goals. They had a difficulty in departing from the Strasbourg agreement.

Q. How did you convince them?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we felt very deeply about it. And I think that the longer we discussed these issues, the more they saw that the outcome of the conference would be disappointing if it was expressed in generalities and if the particular nation-by-nation quotas were not very specific and stringent. There was a general feeling, the longer we were here-I think sharpened by the very high increase in OPEC prices—that we have a serious worldwide problem. And we were ready for the first time to take action that we have never been willing to take before.

Q. When were you able to turn the corner on that, Mr. President, in terms of getting the agreement and clearing that item?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there was an amendment offered a half an hour before we left to go back to a collective European quota— [laughter] —between 1980 and 1985. But this amendment, supported by three other people there, was finally—

Q. So it went down to the last half hour.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, to the last half hour.

Q. Who offered the amendment?

Q. Margaret Thatcher?

THE PRESIDENT. I think I would rather not comment on who offered which amendment.

Q. Do you have a few choice words for Giscard?

THE PRESIDENT. No. We got along well.

Q. Got along well? [Laughter]

Q. Did you discuss the remarks that he made in the interview in Newsweek? 1

1 In the interview, printed in the Newsweek issue of July 2, 1979, President Giscard d’Estaing criticized U.S. energy conservation efforts, as well as several aspects of U.S. foreign policy.

THE PRESIDENT. I pointed out the great amount of attention that I have paid to the energy conservation effort in the United States since I’ve been in office, yes.

Q. What do you think that this will do to the American gas lines?

THE PRESIDENT. I don’t think we can expect any immediate alleviation of the energy problem in the United States on a collective basis. We have not addressed the energy problem adequately in the past. The Congress has not been willing to pass a single line of legislation about oil, in spite of 2 years of importunities and requests. And this lack of action over a number of years has caught up with us. We have a limited amount of oil to distribute. And we can try to ’have an equitable allocation of oil between tractor fuel and diesel fuel for trucks and home heating oil and gasoline for motorists, but there is no easy answer to it. It’s just going to take time.

But in my opinion, the deep commitment to restrain imports, the deep commitment to go to new forms of energy-synthetic fuels, the liquefaction and gasification of oil [coal], oil derived from oil shale, tar sands in Canada, an increased use of coal, a commitment to solar energy—we’ll do this in an accelerating way because of the newly aroused concern and commitment on the part of American people and the Congress. And this will be enhanced because it will be .a multinational effort as well.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any plans to go back and discuss this on television in the United States or try to summarize this in any way?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven’t discussed with Jody and Jerry yet exactly what and when. I think it would be better to let me reserve the answer to that question for a little bit later.

Q. Mr. President, can you tell us in any more detail how you persuaded, in particular, the Germans, because we know they came into the summit with a different attitude?

THE PRESIDENT. I think Henry Owen can give you that information at the general briefing this afternoon.

Q. But you’ve said that 8.5 will be the limit through 1985 from this point on?

THE PRESIDENT. That’s correct.

Q. And the OPEC statement, which you think will be striking in its effect—

THE PRESIDENT. I think you’ll see it is. In the past, it’s been a difficult thing for an individual nation, highly vulnerable to the interruption of oil supplies, to make any sort of critical comment about OPEC action. You’ve observed that yourself. But the fact that Japan and Italy, for instance, who have practically no energy sources of their own, combined with France and Germany, Great Britain, Canada, and us—to make this strong statement, I think, is a very significantmove. What the OPEC nations have done with their 60-percent increase in prices in the last 6 months has obviously had a disconcerting effect on the very strong industrialized nations. In some cases, it’s had an almost devastating effect on the developing nations of the world.

One of the things that we considered in our private sessions, for instance, was that some countries now spend 100 percent of all their external earned income just to buy oil. And other countries, reasonably strong, like Brazil, that in 1973 were spending 10 percent of its earned income on oil, now spend 40 percent of its earned income on oil.

This is a potential catastrophe for the developing nations of the world, in spite of the fact that all of the industrialized countries are increasing our aid to the most severely impacted countries.

Q. Mr. President, before we came to the summit, we were told that any sort of a public confrontation with the OPEC countries would drive the moderate producers straight into the camp of the price hawks, if you will. Is it a situation now that they’re going to do it anyway? They’re going to have these price increases so the industrial countries have to get on the record with a strong response?

THE PRESIDENT. All of us recognize that Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and maybe one or two others have been a moderating factor, but the final action of OPEC is what we have to address. And obviously, some of the more demanding members of OPEC would have had much higher prices than they have imposed. But I think that looking at the statement on OPEC from an historical point of view, it’s a very significant and unprecedented action.

Q. Was there a lot of debate about the wisdom of doing it—


Q. —or did the sentiment for it grow sharply with the decision taken in Geneva?

THE PRESIDENT. The decision started out with a great deal of reluctance and timidity on the part of some, but after the actions were taken by OPEC and announced, and after reading their Communiqué, there was a unanimous belief that we should have a strong statement.

Q. Which is to say, today?

THE PRESIDENT. Which is to say, today. And we instructed the Foreign Ministers, during the lunch hour, to prepare the statement. It was strengthened somewhat in the afternoon session, not weakened by anyone.

Q. Is it a statement, or does it call for any action?

THE PRESIDENT. It’s a part of the Communiqué, expressing our concern, deep concern about the unwarranted and damaging action of the OPEC countries in raising their prices.

Q. Mr. President, is there any room in all this for a dialog in the future with OPEC, with a meeting of some sort?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the OPEC Communiqué pretty well prohibits a dialog on the basis that we had contemplated. That was one of the attitudes of theirs which caused us some concern. But we’re all obviously willing to have a dialog with the OPEC countries to see how the quantity of oil, the price of oil, and the consumption of oil can be stabilized. And this is something that we hope will develop in the future.
I think I need to go.
REPORTER. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:55 p.m. at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence.


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Chicago: Jimmy Carter, "Tokyo Economic Summit Conference Remarks and a Question-And-Answer Session With Reporters.," Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1979 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1979 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.2300-2302 1184–1186. Original Sources, accessed August 8, 2022,

MLA: Carter, Jimmy. "Tokyo Economic Summit Conference Remarks and a Question-And-Answer Session With Reporters." Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1979, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1979 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.2300-2302, pp. 1184–1186. Original Sources. 8 Aug. 2022.

Harvard: Carter, J, 'Tokyo Economic Summit Conference Remarks and a Question-And-Answer Session With Reporters.' in Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1979. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1979 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.2300-2302, pp.1184–1186. Original Sources, retrieved 8 August 2022, from