File No. 763.72112/2050

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

No. 497]

Sir: With reference to my despatch No. 496 of November 30, 1915, regarding the agreement between the British Government and Aktiebolaget Transito,1 I have the honor to transmit herewith copies of a communication published by the British Legation here concerning this matter.

I have [etc.]

Ira N. Morris

Communication of British Legation concerning Aktiebolaget Transito

The British Legation in Stockholm has asked that the following communication be published:

Since misunderstandings have arisen which are evidently due to a wrong translation of an incomplete outline of a proposed contract with Aktiebolaget Transito, concerning their control of goods which are sent to and from Russia in transit through Sweden, the British Legation has the honor to make the following statement:

An arrangement has now been made between the English and Swedish Governments, by which the English Government grants licenses for the export to Sweden of articles on the English list of prohibited exports, in exchange for which the Swedish Government grants England and Russia licenses to ship through Sweden articles which are on the Swedish list of prohibited exports. By this means it is hoped that the usual traffic between England and Sweden will be kept up.

Unfortunately it has sometimes happened that goods, for which the English Government has issued licenses for export to Russia, or vice versa, have gone astray on their way through Sweden and have not reached their destination. This has naturally made the countries which grant licenses for export through Sweden, suspicious. If they did not regain confidence, Swedish interests would be doubly injured, first because of the decrease in the quantity of transit goods, and secondly because of the difficulty of getting enough material from England to fill the demand in Sweden

Under these circumstances it is evident that something must be done to make it absolutely certain that goods which pass through Sweden in transit reach their destination. Therefore one of the chief duties of Aktiebolaget Transito is to see that the goods reach their destination, either in England or Russia.

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As the system which has been arranged for the exchange of licenses demands a very careful and rather extensive bookkeeping, which the Legations cannot very well attend to themselves, it was necessary to come to an agreement with some Swedish concern.

Thus the work of Aktiebolaget Transito, inasmuch as it will insure the arrival at its destination of goods which pass through Sweden in transit, will reestablish and strengthen the confidence in the transition traffic.

The British Legation wishes to refute all statements that have been made to the effect that it was their object to establish a monopoly either in steamship traffic or spedition, which would in any way injure Swedish interests. On the other hand the only things which will influence the British authorities when choosing routes will be cost and safety. But it must be taken into consideration that because of these two things a great deal of the traffic has hitherto taken place via Norwegian ports and therefore there will be no change to the detriment of Swedish interests. On the other hand the transoceanic traffic via Göteborg and Stockholm, which has hitherto been looked upon with much suspicion, because of which the boats have been brought to England, will hereafter enjoy greater freedom because of the agreement with Aktiebolaget Transito.

Furthermore the public should take special notice that Aktiebolaget Transito will have nothing whatever to do with goods for Swedish consumption, but will only take charge of goods which pass through Sweden in transit to Russia or England.

It must be admitted that the respective governments have a right to look out for these goods without in any way encroaching on Swedish sovereignty or national rights.

  1. Not printed.