File No. 763.72112/2060
The British Ambassador (Spring Rice) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 29.]
My Dear Mr. Secretary: In my personal note of December 132 I communicated to you a memorandum based upon the official trade returns of the Department of Commerce, which, I think, clearly demonstrates the absence of any justification for the suggestion of an officer of your department that the measures adopted by His Majesty’s Government in the exercise of their belligerent right to with-hold supplies from their enemies have been operated with the intention or the result of promoting British trade with neutral countries at the expense of the foreign trade of the United States.[Page 652]
You will have noticed from the memorandum that the only instances in which a reduction of exports from the United States has been accompanied by an appreciable increase in British exports are rosin, tobacco, and oil products. In this connection the following supplementary information which I have received from my Government may be of value in dispelling any misunderstanding that may still exist owing to an incomplete explanation of the circumstances in regard to exports of these articles from the United Kingdom.
French rosin which in normal times has been shipped all over the world from Antwerp and Hamburg is now forwarded to the United Kingdom for distribution.
Increased British reexports of tobacco are explained by the diversion to ports of the United Kingdom of tobacco from India, South Africa, Brazil, China, and Greece, formerly shipped to continental ports for distribution, as well as by the large quantities forwarded by organizations and individuals in the United Kingdom to British troops in the various war areas.
In regard to oil products, American oil companies have imported unusually large quantities of mineral oils into the United Kingdom since the beginning of the war for transshipment to the Continent when occasion arose; joint purchases of petroleum by the Allied governments have moreover been shipped to the United Kingdom for storage and distribution.
Believe me [etc.]