File No. 763.72112/3838

Report of the Subcommittee on Statistics and Sources of Information 1

It has been suggested in the report of the Subcommittee on Export Licenses that the work of fixing rations on a statistical basis must remain mainly in the hands of the War Trade Statistical Department and the Rationing Committee in London; while the work of investigating and passing upon the character of consignees for goods in neutral countries will have largely to remain in the hands of the War Trade Intelligence Department. The question appears to be “how far the United States Government can assist or supplement the machinery of these committees in London for gathering information as to the situation in neutral countries.”

So far as the character of consignees in neutral countries is concerned, it will probably be sufficient to instruct American consular officers in those countries to report any indications that may have come or may come to their notice that American goods are reaching unreliable consignees. For the rest, as the working of the licensing system develops, American consular officers will doubtless be instructed from time to time to report their opinion as to firms whom the British Government informs the United States licensing authority that they regard as unreliable.

To pass on to the very complicated question of what may be called rationing information, the War Trade Statistical Department in London at present has the following information, based upon official statistical reports from consular and diplomatic officers, Secret Service channels, and information supplied confidentially by associations such as the Danish Merchants’ Guild:

Imports into the Scandinavian countries, Holland, and Switzerland from overseas.
Exports from those countries to Germany (the value or fullness of these statistics vary in different countries—there being hardly any available in the case of Norway and only statistics as to food exports available in the case of Denmark).
Exports of those countries to the United Kingdom and the other Allies.
A large amount of information gathered during the past two and one-half years as to the state of various industries in the neutral countries, their need for raw materials, rate of production, etc. Information as to the precise agricultural production is probably less complete than any other class of information for obvious reasons, since statistics as to the number of live stock in the various neutral countries, etc., are usually not available even if the statistics are compiled by the Governments themselves.

[Page 864]

The Government of the United States could probably aid the work of the War Trade Statistical Department by furnishing to the Department at short intervals detailed statements of exports from the United States to the various countries. This would to a certain extent enable the authorities in London to dispense with less certain means of information, such as checking of manifests, which is found necessary at present. As regards exports of neutral countries to Germany, it is thought that American consular officers, Treasury agents, and commercial attachés may be able to furnish additional information on certain points, if only in view of the fact that during the past two and one-half years their neutrality has possibly given them access to sources of information from which belligerent consuls have been excluded.

In some cases also American officials may have special knowledge; for instance, the American officials at Amsterdam might be able materially to assist the British Consul in the control of diamond exports.

Generally it would be well that all officials abroad under the control of the Departments of State, Commerce, and Treasury be instructed to offer assistance to their British colleagues and especially to report after consultation with them, whether they have any indications that American goods are passing through neutral countries into enemy hands.

We venture to suggest that the United States Government might furnish very definite assistance to the Allied Governments if they were to demand from neutrals official statements of their exports to enemy countries. As already stated, no statistics can be obtained as to exports from Norway and only statistics as to food exports can be obtained in the case of Denmark though there is every reason to believe that by-products of cattle, such as hair, bone, and hides, are being exported, besides such articles as vegetable fibres. In Holland, Sweden, and Switzerland, official statistics are issued though they are very belated in the case of the latter country, but these official statistics cannot be regarded as complete or reliable and they have to be supplemented by various other sources of information. It is suggested that, when Swedish or other delegates who are on their way to America, begin their negotiations here, they should be informed that it is impossible for the United States Government to feel any certainty in allowing exports until the neutral Governments concerned supply complete and reliable statistics of exports to the enemy. As such countries as Sweden and Holland would doubtless reply to such representations that their existing statistics are absolutely exhaustive and as it will be impossible to meet this argument by any reference to the very confidential figures in possession of the British Government, it would be well to obtain as soon as possible [Page 865] from the United States consular and other officers in those countries reports giving reasons which could be quoted for believing that the official statistics are incomplete. This might perhaps be done immediately by telegraph.

Similar, demands might be made to the neutral Governments for information as to statistics of agricultural and other production in the respective countries.

This subcommittee is in possession of such statistics as are available and can present them to the conference if that body shall so desire. It is not, however, thought that the major conference will wish to take up such a detailed matter as these statistics of the various items of import and export into and from neutral countries.

We also venture to suggest that, if it should be desired that the committee continue in existence for the purpose of collecting statistics, such a committee be formed of the representatives of the Departments of State, Commerce, and Treasury, and be prepared to supervise in a general way the War Statistical Division which in the report of the Committee on Export Licenses it is proposed to set up.

  • [ W. J. Carr ]
    Director of the Consular Service
  • [ L. H. Woolsey ]
    Solicitor [Nominate] of the Department of State
  • [ E. E. Pratt ]
    Chief of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce
  • [ Eustace Percy ]
    On behalf of the British members

  1. See footnote 1, ante, p. 846.