File No. 763.72112/697

The Minister in Norway ( Schmedeman ) to the Secretary of State

No. 66]

Sir: I have the honor to enclose, herewith, together with a translation, a report issued by the Norwegian National Victualing Commission, which is under the supervision of the Department of Social Affairs. The report may be of special interest to the Department at this time, as the statistics are given showing the import to Norway the past year, compared with import in 1913. In discussing this report with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I inferred from his statements that this report was sent to the English Government to refute the statement that has been made that Norway’s import had vastly increased in 1914.

I have [etc.]

A. G. Schmedeman

The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs ( Ihlen ) to the American Minister ( Schmedeman )

Report of the National Victualing Commission

The Royal Department for Foreign Affairs:

In accordance with a request from the Royal Department the following statistics are furnished respecting imports to Norway during the past year compared with the imports during 1913:

1913 1914
Wheat 22,005 tons 46,532 tons
Wheat flour 67,532 69,958
Rye 190,817 142,777
Rye flour 52,993 33,883
Oats 4,666 3,987
Barley 83,857 81,174
421,870 tons 378,311 tons
Adding to this:
28,853 40,229
Total for above grain and corn 450,723 tons 418,540 tons

Thus the total imports of grain and corn into this country during 1914, according to statistics obtained by the National Victualing Commission from the collector of customs, are altogether 32,183 tons less than in 1913.

[Page 321]

In spite of these smaller imports, however, there was a considerable increase in the imports from the United States of America, owing to the circumstances that from the time when the war broke out that was practically speaking the only country from which grain could be obtained. As is well known, the other countries from which Norway regularly supplied the bulk of her requirements for grain (Russia and Germany) have an embargo on these commodities.

This increase in the imports from the United States of America, when viewed in the light of the total imports, is therefore not in the least extraordinary. The enormous rise in the price of the American grain and flour naturally resulted in an increase in the value of the grain and flour exports, and in fact of the exports to Norway on the whole, showing a comparatively stronger increase as compared with the quantity of the exports. With the extraordinary conditions of the market now prevailing, however, the value of the exports of any article throws little light on the subject and is of small value in comparing statistics of the kind under consideration.

We have as yet no material for judging what portion of the total imports for 1914 came from the United States.

As regards the increased imports of corn we are able to state that the great rise in the price of wheat and rye resulted in many people employing corn flour to mix with the wheat flour and rye flour, by which means a cheaper bread can be produced and at the same time the actual bread material is economized.

The great increase in the price of strong cattle foods also resulted in corn being more widely employed for cattle food than previously.

All suspicions against Norwegian commerce in the above direction should vanish on noting the fact that the imports of grain and flour to Norway during 1914 were less than those of 1913. Under the prevailing conditions it would have been desirable to have greater imports so that the reserve supplies might have been stored with greater facility.

As regards the imports of sugar, salt, coal, coke, petroleum, and benzine, the following figures are given:


Sugar Salt Coal Coke Petroleum Benzine
1913 53,547 214,987 2,276,808 205,616 79,253 992
1914 59,891 200,603 2,464,790 253,852 86,632 3,369

The above table shows that there was some increase in the imports of the commodities in question during the past year, with the exception of salt. This increase was due to the desire to secure reserve supplies as far as possible during the existing circumstances. The increase in the imports of benzine is due to the fact that it was no longer possible to obtain the crude oil from European fields for refining and for the production of benzine. The supply of the crude oil stopped during the war, and in consequence it was necessary to import benzine from America. Moreover the increased use of benzine for motors had resulted in a rapid rise in the consumption of benzine.

With the exception of salt, the export from Norway of all the commodities mentioned above is prohibited.

Harald Pedersen

Anders Fjelstad