File No. 763.72112/598

The Swiss Minister (Ritter) to the Secretary of State

Sir: Upon telegraphic instructions from my Government, I have the honor to convey to your excellency the sincere thanks of the Swiss Federal Council for defending the interests of neutrals with regard to their commercial intercourse.

The President of the Swiss Confederation requests me to direct your kind attention especially to the manifold difficulties still confronting the American exporters of goods destined for Switzerland. The question of transit of goods classed as contraband through Italy, for some time a barrier standing in the way, has been satisfactorily adjusted by an Italian decree of November 13, whereby the transshipment of goods, if consigned to Swiss firms, or whose bills of lading clearly show the ultimate destination to be Switzerland, will not be interfered with.

A further protection for shippers lies in the embargo placed in Switzerland on the exportation of copper and other metals, as well as of numerous other articles. The reexportation from Switzerland of such imported articles is thereby effectively prevented. The embargo rules and regulations are enforced in a bona fide manner.

In spite of this, and although this Legation provides exporters with a certificate to the effect that the respective goods will be consumed exclusively in Switzerland and that they can not be reexported therefrom, most steamship companies still refuse, as I had the honor to point out to your excellency on previous occasions, to accept any freight for Switzerland. Not only are thereby additional burdens laid on the commercial relations between Switzerland and the United States, but American shippers are in numerous instances prevented from filling orders for old customers and from forming new connections.

The economic interests of Switzerland, however, require that the Federal Council reserve a free hand in granting exceptions from the above-mentioned embargo. Under all circumstances, the Government should have the right to permit certain exceptions on industrial products in the case of articles for further use in manufacture and, exceptionally, for the purpose of giving compensations for obtaining from abroad such indispensable articles as coal, soda, and partially worked pieces of iron. The total of these exceptions does, the Federal Council states, not play any part whatever on belligerents.

In view of the existing conditions, the Government of the Swiss Confederation would greatly appreciate it if the American Government would continue to keep in view the interests of Switzerland in its negotiations for removing the unnecessary hardships placed at present on the commerce between neutral nations.

Accept [etc.]

P. Ritter