The United States has won tentative agreement from six other industrialized nations to adopt a joint economic recovery policy that will minimize trade and monetary conflicts at their summit conference in Williamsburg later this month, informed sources said yesterday.
The U.S. working paper on the summit, which was presented at a preparatory meeting in Paris 10 days ago, represents an effort to avoid confrontation and to strike a balance between continuing American concern over East-West trade and European demands for American action on high interest rates, budget deficits and volatile foreign exchange markets, these sources reported.
In addition to seeking to reduce the sharp conflicts that broke into the open at last year's seven-nation economic summit in France, the Reagan administration also will reportedly seek a political declaration at the meeting endorsing the deployment of a new generation of American nuclear missiles in Western Europe, now scheduled to begin in December.
The heads of state or government of Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and West Germany and officials of the European Community will meet with President Reagan at Williamsburg on May 28 and 29.
The U.S. paper was drawn up by the Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs, W. Allen Wallis. Thus far, it does not have the formal approval of the White House or of the other six governments, which asked for more time to consider the Wallis paper when it was presented in Paris.
But it is known to be the only document currently under consideration as a basis for a joint agreed statement to be issued at the conference's end, and sources from three countries involved predicted that only minor changes in wording would be asked if the United States, as host nation, formally puts the draft forward to be issued as a final communique.
A spokesman for Wallis yesterday described the paper as a "jointly developed" outline of the subjects to be taken up at the summit and cautioned that the leaders could still make extensive changes. He declined to go into the details of the document.
The Reagan administration has resisted the precedent of having a final communique drafted in advance of the summit and will leave the decision on issuing such a document to the meeting's final day in an attempt to encourage more spontaneous discussion, U.S. officials report. The desire for informal discussions will also be reflected by limiting some of the summit sessions to heads of state only.
Sharp criticism by French President Francois Mitterrand this week of American monetary policy and an earlier call by Mitterrand for a "new Bretton Woods" conference to return the world to fixed exchange rates have raised apprehension about renewed clashes between France and the United States at the summit. But the preparatory work for the summit appears at this point to have smoothed the way for a series of compromises on the most controversial issues.
Acknowledging that serious problems of unemployment still exist and claiming partial success in the fight against inflation, the document calls on the seven nations to commit themselves to a "Common Approach to a Sustained Recovery" that would include "action now" to develop cooperative consultations on policies and exchange market conditions. While specifying that the decision to intervene to support currencies under attack would be left to each nation, it does establish the principle of coordinated intervention that France is seeking.
Moreover, in a section on "Longer Term Goals and Decisions," the United States agrees to an effort by directors of the International Monetary Fund and the summit countries' finance ministers to improve the international monetary system and to consider the holding of a high level monetary conference.
France's continuing high rate of inflation and its generally sluggish economic performance has driven the dollar to record levels against the French franc and forced France to spend heavily from its foreign exchange reserves and to borrow abroad to prop up the franc's value.
The document also recommends that the summit acknowledge that high budget deficits have the effect of promoting "too high real interest rates, which provoke distortions and volatility in exchange rates." France complains that the continuing eight to nine point spread between the American inflation rate and commercial interest rates draws capital from Europe and keeps the value of the dollar abnormally high.
In a phrase that would provide a politically useful bow to Reagan but which is likely to be the subject of debate at the summit, the paper would have the summit encourage governments "to reduce excessive budget deficits, especially by reducing expenditures." It also echoes American thinking on increasing the role of GATT (The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) in international trade and on fighting what the paper describes as the dangers of "growing protectionism".
Discord could still surface also around what are now relatively low-key references to East-West trade. Disputes on that subject after Versailles triggered the Reagan administration's attempt to impose sanctions against companies in Europe that participated in the construction of a natural gas pipeline linking the Soviet Union to Western Europe.
When Reagan lifted the sanctions in November, he said the Europeans had agreed to impose tougher restrictions on East-West trade and flow of technology to communist states. The Europeans said they had agreed only to studies of the subject by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, NATO and the Western Alliance's coordinating committee of technology exports known as COCOM.
In its "action now" section, the working paper calls on the summit to agree to implement the conclusions of those studes as they stand at the time of the Williamsburg meeting. Conference sources report that the conclusions of the studies are sufficiently flexible to permit a broad agreement on that point.
There is also one sentence on East-West trade in the longer-term section that provides for the seven nations to continue to work in "appropriate existing fora" to develop an agreed analysis of economic relations with the East "with attention to our shared security concerns."