File No. 892.151/4.
Chargé Tarler to the Secretary of State.
Bangkok, February 24, 1910.
Sir: I have the honor to report, in continuation of Mr. King’s dispatches, Nos. 538 and 539,1 dated November 11 and November 18, 1909, respectively, that, having pursued the investigation suggested by the tenor of his communications, by interviewing such of my colleagues as I considered unbiased, and discussing the subject matter thereof with engineers and business men in Bangkok whose views were confirmed by correspondence sent by American firms and recently received by me, I am firmly convinced that the so-called “open tenders” for Government supply work are such in name only, and that the specifications and conditions imposed are discriminatory against American manufactures and in favor of those Governments which have advisers in the departments which formulate the said specifications and ultimately award the final contracts, and that the present system, therefore, as countenanced by the Siamese Government is absolutely devoid of any suggestion of equal commercial opportunity for all nations—a principle which must obtain here if American commercial interests expect to gain a foothold in Siam.
In the matter of tenders for the waterworks supplies for Bangkok, recently called for, it appears that all American firms consider the specifications absolutely prohibitory. One American firm refused to make quotations for the pipes specified, and referred the matter to their English connections. Other firms informed their agents here that they can not bid on account of the prohibitory restrictions contained in the specifications. The crux of the matter is this: The specifications call for a certain style of rubber joint or gasket in the pipes, which, so far as is known, is manufactured only by a certain foreign firm. I am informed that this foundry is the only one that makes this specific joint, and when it is remembered that the controlling engineers and advisers in this department are of the same nationality it would seem natural to infer that favoritism is being shown to the manufacturers in this regard.
One minister read to me a protest addressed by him to the foreign office charging favoritism, and concluding with the request that the tenders be made open in all sincerity and without any encumbering conditions or restrictive prohibitions. He asked me to take similar action. As the bids are to be opened on April 15, and it will be impossible for me to have the department’s instructions before that time, and feeling that at the present time strenuous action will not be fruitful of desirable results, I shall, at my next interview with Prince Devawongse at the foreign office, take up the matter very informally, and, should the opportunity present itself, I shall express the view that my Government would learn with great satisfaction that in all tenders for Government contract work American manufacturers [Page 847] were accorded equal opportunity with those of other nations. And for my future guidance I would be pleased to have the department instruct me as to the course to be pursued in making formal or informal representations to the foreign office, whether in each case it is desired that I await specific instructions, etc.
I have, etc.,
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