File No. 763.72112/1462

The Swedish Minister (Ekengren) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 6th instant.1

From the wording of your note I come to the conclusion that mine of the 31st1 was not understood in the light I intended it should be. I did not mean to even imply that the question of limitation on Swedish imports from America, eventually imposed by England, would affect America more than it would Sweden, nor that the normal trade would be affected. I do not doubt but that the amounts proposed by England are equal to the normal, but, as I see it, that is not the point in issue. The point, as I see it, is this: Has a belligerent a right to limit the commercial intercourse between two neutrals? The theory of such a course seems repulsive, even though the limitation is actually no limitation. So far as export from America to Sweden is concerned, I am well aware that it has been much greater since the outbreak of the war than before. But the other important markets for Sweden are closed, or almost closed. An examination of the Swedish import figures shows that there has been no extraordinary increase in the importation as a whole. In many instances there has been no increase and in many others there has been a decrease. However, that is more or less irrelevant in this connection.

Of course, if a neutral agrees with a belligerent to import only so or so much of a certain article, another neutral could hardly object on the ground that its trade with the first neutral power was being limited. But Sweden has not, so far as I know, done anything but refuse to consider England’s propositions in the matter. There was, I recall, an article in a paper sometime ago wherein it was stated that arrangements had been made between England and Sweden relative to the amount of cotton to be imported by the latter per month. This article was misleading. The arrangement was between some British institution and the cotton spinners of Sweden, whereby the former would allow a certain amount of cotton to pass uninterrupted when consigned to the latter.

[Page 508]

I might add that I did not intend in my letter of July 31 to have the question of limitation of import and export appear concrete, but hypothetical. My intention was to unofficially initiate discussion of the principle in general. I put it in the form I did to make it clear.

So far, I have not received the full outline of my Government’s difference with the British. As soon as I receive it I shall take pleasure in communicating its contents to you.

I am [etc.]

W. A. F. Ekengren
  1. Ante, p. 500.
  2. Ante, p. 500.