File No. 300.115/28357
The Foreign Trade Adviser of the Department of State ( Rose ) to the Commercial Adviser of the British Embassy ( Crawford )
My Dear Sir Richard : I am in receipt of your letter in which you state that the British Government have fixed June 15 as the latest date under which goods of enemy origin may be shipped from neutral ports under special permits which may be issued in the cases unofficially and informally submitted by the foreign trade advisers to you, and in which you suggest that it might be desirable that claimants should be informed of this when they present their cases for consideration. You further state that goods shipped after June 15 would come under the procedure laid down in Article 4 of: the order in council of March 11.
I sincerely hope that your Government will see fit to reconsider its action in this matter, and that special permits will be granted in the [Page 224] future, as in the past, without date limitation. As a matter of equity, if American-owned goods are in Germany which were paid for before March 1, they should be allowed to come forward under a special permit after June 15 as well as before that date. In other words, if the principle that American shippers should have special permits to June 15 is right, it is also right that they should be allowed to bring forward goods which were paid for before March 1 on any subsequent date. I cannot conceive of how a date of this kind affects a principle.
On this subject I shall have more to say further on in this letter.
I further respectfully submit that if the American shippers are to receive substantial benefit from special permits which are based on the evidence informally and unofficially submitted by this office to your Government, it is absolutely necessary that your Government shall be less rigorous, and shall allow the American importers to bring out of Germany those goods the title to which had passed either by payment before March 1 or by contract by which the American importers are obligated to pay for such goods.
In regard to the first proposition of limiting the time for the bringing out of such goods from Germany to June 15, 1915:
Such action on the part of your Government would practically amount to a prohibition of the importation into this country of American-owned goods in Germany. It is true that your note states that after June 15 the goods shipped would come under the procedure laid down in Article 4 of the order in council of March 11. This, however, does not practically remedy the situation. The detention of vessels for the purpose of taking shipments before a prize court is expensive to the shipping lines and no shipments will be accepted by the shipping lines unless there is an assurance that the boats carrying the shipments will not be detained.
Again, it is a physical impossibility for our shippers to get the merchandise into neutral ports before June 15. In this regard I attach a copy of a letter to-day received from the representative of Louis Wolf and Company of Boston, which strikingly bears out the truth of this assertion.1
Another grave question in connection with this limitation is the practical impossibility of moving the goods from Rotterdam or other neutral port to this country before June 15. In all probability the shipping facilities in Rotterdam or other neutral port will not permit of the bringing out of the cargoes to this country, even if it were possible to get the goods into Rotterdam or other neutral port by that time.
I cannot bring myself to the belief that in delegating you to act in this important matter of facilitating shipments of American-owned goods in Germany, your Government intended to surround you with such rigorous regulations and limitations as to make the results of comparatively small practical benefit to American shippers. I am, therefore, encouraged to informally and unofficially request that the limitation of moving these goods from a neutral port to this country be removed, and that goods under contract, entered into in good faith by American citizens before March 1, and under which there [Page 225] is not only a moral but a legal obligation for the payment of such goods, be allowed to come out of Germany without limiting the time in any manner.
I therefore unofficially and informally, and on behalf of the shippers of the United States who have goods now in Germany, request that you urgently take up the matter with your Government to the end that all American shippers who have bought and paid or in good faith contracted for goods of German or Austrian origin without notice of the order in council, may be protected against the serious loss which otherwise would be sustained.
I am [etc.]
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