File No. 763.72112/1927

The Minister in the Netherlands (Van Dyke) to the Secretary of State

No. 375]

Sir: I have the honor to enclose an announcement, made in “as-it-were” English, by the Netherlands Oversea Trust on November 3.1 This announcement renders the following points sufficiently clear:

The trust proposes, as a private corporation, to exercise the right of discretion [referred to in my despatch No. 314, of July 19, 19151] of accepting or refusing clients, in accordance with its fundamental principle, which is to secure the import of goods purely for Dutch consumption.
The trust keeps a list of clients who violate or evade the obligations which they have freely undertaken in order to obtain the advantage of consigning shipments to the trust.
In withholding its service from such clients, who use the mediation of the trust to cover imports which are not really intended for Dutch consumption, but for direct or indirect reexportation to a belligerent country, the trust merely safeguards its own existence and usefulness. It reserves the [Page 280] right to publish the names of those who have imperiled its operation by violating or evading their promises of non-exportation, which they made for the sake of securing the assistance of the trust.

All this represents an extraordinary and hitherto unheard-of state of commercial affairs, which is due chiefly to the maritime measures of the belligerents, the legality of which our Government has not admitted.

But as a matter of fact the Oversea Trust has effected the actual modus vivendi under which trade between the United States and the Netherlands has proceeded since January 1915. American merchants who avail themselves of this channel of trade, should, in my opinion, be clearly advised that they, as well as their agents in the Netherlands, should strictly observe the obligations which they undertake towards the Oversea Trust. If they should fail to do this, it seems to me that they would have no claim to invoke diplomatic intervention to restore them to credit.

It will be observed that during the operation of the Netherlands Oversea Trust the export trade of the United States to the Netherlands has considerably increased, the figures being approximately as follows:

First seven months of 1914 $55,000,000
First seven months of 1915 100,000,000

This refers to American exports for consumption in the Netherlands, and does not include cotton in transit for Germany.

I have [etc.]

Henry van Dyke
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.