File No. 600.119/364

The British Ambassador ( Spring Rice) to the Counselor for the Department of State ( Polk)

My Dear Mr. Counsellor: I have been considering the best way to give you full information as to all of our agreements with neutral countries. While the only really illuminating thing would be for us to let you have a detailed summary of these agreements, that would necessitate such enormous labour and might after all not give you just the information you want, that it seems better to simply let you have the agreements themselves.

Unfortunately we have not got spare copies of the last edition of what we call our Agreements Print, but I enclose the edition of November 15th last1 which contains all the important agreements with the following few important exceptions. In what follows I have ignored various additions to rationing lists, the results of which are all embodied in the lists of rations which have already been communicated to the State Department and also relatively unimportant agreements as to the methods of consignment and regulation of exports from Greenland and such like.

1. Denmark. The Danish coal agreement of January 22, 1917. This agreement merely relates to the methods of controlling the British coal to prevent it being used for enemy benefit.

2. The Netherlands. Various agreements relating to the disposal of glycerine and guarantees covering tin plate, etc.

3. Norway. Agreements with various associations, i. e., Wholesale Provision Merchants Association, Wholesale Grocers Association, National Association of Grain and Flour Importers, Millers Association, Norwegian Food Commission, Cycle Tyre Importers Association, Chocolate Manufacturers Association. The agreement as to Norwegian fisheries by which the British Government is enabled to purchase the whole Norwegian catch except the quantities necessary for consumption in Norway and an additional 15 per cent which may be exported without restrictions. Besides this 15 per cent, it is worth noting that the agreement provides that should there cease to be purchasers in Norway for any of the following classes of products the prohibition of export may be removed from such class, viz., herrings, fresh and salted; wet and dry salted fish and dried fish of various specified kinds; cod oil; herring oil; seal oil; roes and herring and fish meal. In order to provide for the purchase of the fish we had to contract for a loan of 140,000,000 kroner in Norway. The date of the agreement is August the 5th, 1916.

There are certain other agreements with certain individual firms into which perhaps I need not enter, but there is an important supplementary agreement with the Stavanger Canners Import Union of last January.

[Page 915]

4. Sweden. An undertaking by the Swedish Government dated October 6th, 1916, not to export grain or the products of grain.

[5]. General. Arrangements as to declarations to be obtained from shipowners and fishermen of Norway, Sweden and Denmark regarding all sales to them of mineral oils. Various arrangements for controlling jute. Agreements with certain South American meat packers.

You will see that our agreements in this country are included in this print,1 but the question what is to happen to these agreements now has as you know formed the subject of detailed discussions with the Department of Commerce and they may be ignored for the purposes of this letter.

In addition I think I had better send you our printed memorandum on exports from Scandinavian countries and Holland to enemy countries. So far as I know there has been no later edition of this document than that which I enclose.1 Much of the information in this document has already been summarized for you in various memoranda.

Both these enclosures are of course highly confidential, and I have accordingly given this letter a personal character. It would be very serious should any of the figures in the second document be divulged, but I of course send you both documents for the information of the Exports Council and its administrative officers.

Yours very sincerely,

Cecil Spring Rice
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.