File No. 763.72112/689
The Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America to the Secretary of State
Sir: On two earlier occasions we have addressed you on behalf of members of this chamber who in a manner and a degree which we believe are without justification according to the established usages of nations are being impeded in ordinary business transactions. In one instance we called to your attention action on the part of Great Britain which has been prejudicial to our export trade in copper. Subsequently, we represented to you that Great Britain, even after a period sufficiently long to organize a system of censorship which will take reasonable account of the interests of neutral countries in neutral trade, continues arbitrarily and without notice to interrupt commercial cablegrams transmitted between the United States and neutral countries.
On behalf of commercial organizations in the South and their members who are interested in the production of turpentine and rosin, we now hope that steps can be taken to have Great Britain rescind its decision of December 23, 1914, that turpentine and rosin are absolute contraband of war.
Even in the days when sailing ships were in use, both as naval vessels and in the merchant marine, rosin and turpentine could not be said to be used exclusively for war. Certainly they do not to-day [Page 301]have any such exclusive use. Accordingly, in our understanding of the characteristic essential for classification of any article as absolute contraband, rosin and turpentine cannot be placed among absolute contraband without prejudicing the interests of a neutral nation to an extent beyond which no belligerent can fairly go.
The production of rosin and turpentine is an important American industry. In 1909, according to reports of the Bureau of the Census, it had products valued at $25,000,000, and gave employment to 44,000 persons. In the fiscal year of 1913 rosin valued at $17,000,000 was exported: in largest value, $4,900,000, to Germany; Great Britain received the second largest value, $3,800,000. In the fiscal year of 1914, the value of all rosin exported fell to $11,200,000, with Germany and Great Britain still the largest and second largest importers.
Of spirits of turpentine the United States exported a value of $8,700,000 in fiscal year of 1913, and a value of $8,000,000 in the year ended with June 1914. In the latter year a value of $2,900,000 was exported to Great Britain, $1,800,000 to the Netherlands, and $1,300;000 to Germany.
These statistics give some indication of the commercial and economic importance of the present attitude of England. This attitude will greatly accentuate the serious effects the European war has already had in the naval stores industry; in October 1914, the value of all rosin exported from the United States was $351,000, whereas in October 1913, the value was $677,000. The value of all turpentine exported in October 1914 was but $174,000; in October of last year it was $478,000. Unless Great Britain soon rescinds its decision to make rosin and turpentine absolute contraband of war, the state of the naval stores industry will still further decline.