File No. 763.72112/2022

The Minister in Sweden ( Morris ) to the Secretary of State

No. 489]

Sir: With reference to my despatch No. 363,1 regarding a statement made by Mr. Axel Bildt that he hoped to be appointed agent for handling goods passing through Sweden in transit, I have the honor to transmit herewith a communication concerning this matter made by Mr. Bildt.

The whole matter is being very sharply criticized by the Swedish newspapers, who consider it to be simply a continuation of the interference by the British authorities with the trade between America and Sweden.

I have [etc.]

Ira N. Morris

The Monopoly of Transition Traffic

A company called “Aktiebolaget Transito” has been formed in Stockholm with Axel R. Bildt as leading man and supported by the director of the Finnish Steamship Company and a number of Englishmen. The reports that have been circulating about this company have been of such a nature that various business men, forwarding agents and spedtitioners have lodged complaints with the Department of Commerce.

Mr. Bildt makes the following statement about the purpose of the new company:

During the past year it has been shown that goods licensed in England for Russia, or vice versa, have been lost on the way, in spite of the efforts of the Swedish and Norwegian Governments to hinder such illegal traffic. As a result, both England and Russia have of late refused to grant licenses for goods that were to pass through Sweden in transit. However, through the good work of our Department of Commerce, our trade with England has again been taken up by allowing ordinary goods (not war material) to pass through Sweden in transit to England and Russia in exchange for goods that England herself sells to Sweden. In this way licenses for goods to be transited through Sweden are a method by which Sweden obtains from England or her allies the material necessary for her industries. Then it was necessary for England to make sure that when licenses were granted the goods would reach their destination and not be lost on the way, and therefore an agreement was made between me (Mr. Bildt) and the British and Russian Legations here that all goods which passed through Sweden in transit should be handled by the Transito Company.

There is no truth in the statement that the company is owned by the Finnish Steamship Company or that foreign capital has been invested. Neither is it true that the British and Russian Legations have salaried employees in the company. Through the Wilson Line a very able man, Mr. Franke Leake, has been obtained to manage the company, and a Russian correspondent has been employed. These constitute the “Anglo-Russian [Page 287] staff,” but neither of these men has been employed by the legations.

A statement has been made that Swedish vessels and Swedish forwarding agents would not be used by the Transito Company but this is pure fantasy, as is the report that certain Norwegian companies had been given the monopoly of forwarding the goods. These companies have only been given the preference when goods must be forwarded by land via Haparanda and Torneå. All goods that normally would be, or which can be shipped via Göteborg and Stockholm, will continue to go that way. The Transito Company will not concern itself with the actual shipping of the goods, but the goods have to be consigned to them, although the shippers may use any line or agents they wish.

As the company is organized, it will aid not only the traffic of transition goods but will also further Sweden’s direct import. It is also quite evident that this company can be of much use to Sweden after the war, as many business connections will be made and goods between Russia and England, and Russia and other European countries will most likely continue to go via Sweden.

  1. Not printed.