File No. 763.72112/2690

The Minister in the Netherlands ( Van Dyke ) to the Secretary of State

No. 502

Sir: Referring to the Department’s cabled instructions 323, of June 8, I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy and an English translation of a communication received to-day from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in reply to my letter of June 13, of which I sent you a copy with my despatch No. 492, June 13.2

Comparing these two notes you will observe that the Netherlands Government takes the position that the Netherlands Oversea Trust is a purely private corporation, and is therefore “hardly responsible (guère responsible) to the Netherlands Government for the manner in which it conducts its affairs.” I would respectfully call your attention in connection with this statement to paragraphs 3 and 4 of my note, which, although couched in general terms, were intended to have a special bearing upon the recent refusal of the Trust to [Page 587]accept imports of coffee from New York, while at the same time accepting similar imports from Great Britain and France.

The statements of the Foreign Minister amount in fact to an admission that the Oversea Trust is a corporation chartered by the Netherlands Government but controlled by the British Government.

I am still of the opinion expressed in my despatch No. 201, of February 1, 1915,1 at the time of the incorporation of the Trust, that the most effective, if not the only, method of satisfactorily meeting the operations of such a body would have been by the organization of a similar body in the United States.

At present, under the conditions stated by the Foreign Minister’s note, I think that any further diplomatic representation to the Netherlands Government in regard to the actions of the Trust will be ineffective and not worth while unless accompanied by a formal protest against the existence of a body not controlled by the Netherlands Government and yet as a matter of fact now directing the course of almost the entire commerce between the United States and the Netherlands. Whether such a protest would be wise in view of the general benefits which American trade with this country has received from the operation of the Trust (as pointed out in my various despatches upon the subject, and particularly in my No. 493 of June 13 last2), is a question for the Department to determine.

The courteous suggestion at the close of the Foreign Minister’s letter, that American and other importers into the Netherlands are free to pass by the Trust and to choose other means of transportation, does not seem to me to be of any practical value in the present state of affairs.

I have [etc.]

Henry van Dyke

The Netherland Minister of Foreign Affairs ( Loudon ) to the American Minister ( Van Dyke )

Mr. Minister: In reply to your communication of June 13 last, I have the honor to inform your excellency that the Netherlands Oversea Trust, whatever the extent of its activities may be, is hardly responsible to the Government of the Queen for the manner in which it conducts its affairs.

I venture moreover to point out to you that the Government does not oblige anybody to make use of the intermediary of the Trust, and that consequently, in so far as the matter is dependent upon the Netherland Government, the importers of goods into the Netherlands are free in their choice of the means of transportation which they desire to employ.

Accept [etc.]

J. Loudon
  1. Despatch and enclosure not printed.
  2. Foreign Relations 1915, Supplement, p. 270.
  3. Ante, p. 399.