File No. 600.119/410

The Commercial Adviser of the British Embassy ( Crawford) to the Counselor for the Department of State ( Polk)

My Dear Polk: I enclose copy of a letter which Percy has written to Mr. McCormick. I think that if you agree with the course proposed this procedure will be the most practical, and we will send you on each occasion a copy of the lists thus submitted to the board.

Yours very sincerely,

R. Crawford

The Secretary of the British Embassy ( Percy) to the Chairman of the Exports Administrative Board ( McCormick)

Dear Mr. McCormick: I have been considering how I can best put before the board the subjects on which we desire consultation without overburdening you with lengthy memoranda. I think perhaps the best way would be that I should follow the course I took on Wednesday and submit to you from time to time lists of subjects so that you or other members of the board or the board as a whole may be able to take up these matters with us verbally when you are ready or ask for further written information on any point when it comes up for consideration.

I enclose for convenience of reference a copy of the list of subjects which I handed you at the meeting on Wednesday. Of these (1) is now in full course of consideration; (2) has been discussed and nothing more can be done till we receive the views of the Foreign Office on the [Page 948] new Danish policy which you have tentatively suggested to us, and (3) is disposed of; (4) and (5) still remain in a somewhat indefinite position.

I now enclose a second list in which I have tried to distinguish between those matters which are urgent from our point of view and those which, so far as we are concerned, can be considered more or less at leisure.

Yours very truly,

[No signature indicated]
[Subenclosure 1]

I. Matters for Urgent Discussion with the Exports Board

1. The British Government are now ready to denounce all their agreements with the various Norwegian associations, except perhaps the tanners’ agreement. The agreements in question are as follows:

Grocers, grain and flour importers and millers, grain and flour importers for feeding stuffs, automobile clubs, all the canners’ unions, oil and colour merchants, chocolate manufacturers, paper makers and pulp makers, soap makers, cycle tyre importers, lubricating oil merchants, associations of margarine manufacturers, and the understanding with the Food Commission. Does the United States Government desire to see these agreements denounced, and if so, do they agree to the forms of denunciation proposed?

2. The agreement between the British Government and the Danish associations may make it difficult for the former to take action in stopping Danish imports from neutral countries. They propose to make a communication to the associations with a view to keep the agreement alive but to state frankly that they can not continue to guarantee the free entry of goods covered by the agreement, so long as pending negotiations between the Danish and the United States Governments have not reached a satisfactory conclusion. Do the United States Government agree?

3. The British Government attaches the utmost importance to Switzerland receiving the full amount of 30,000 tons of oil cake for which they are asking.

4. The British Government are in communication with the Netherlands Oversea Trust with regard to the cessation of the “free imports” of coffee, tobacco and quinine from the Dutch colonies. They are also informed by the Dutch Government that the latter intend to transit 370,000 tons of gravel from Germany to Belgium before November 15th, as this is the quantity needed by the Germans up to next spring. The British Government attach importance to an understanding with the United States Government as to the latter’s negotiations with the Dutch Government.

[Page 949]

5. If, after fixing rations for neutral European countries, those countries are to be directed to fetch their supplies from Australia, the voyage will take four months, and unless neutrals are warned to this effect in advance, there may be a period during which the Wheat Commission may have to cede American supplies to the neutrals. As, however, any intimation to the neutrals that they would have to fetch their supplies from Australia rather than from the United States would drive them immediately to purchase large quantities of supplies in the Argentine, an early settlement of the Argentine question seems to be imperative.

[Subenclosure 2]

II. Matters for Discussion with the Exports Board

(1) Coal

The board is fully informed as to the British coal licensing policy so far as control over consignee is concerned. The British authorities would be glad to coordinate British licensing policy so far as concerns the amounts to be licensed to various destinations. It is suggested that the two licensing authorities might exchange regularly weekly statistics of coal actually shipped to countries receiving both American and British coal, especially European countries and South America.
The Argentine draws coal both from the United Kingdom and from the United States. Do the United States suggest any restrictions on the amounts to be licensed from the United Kingdom at the present moment?
The British Government understands that the United States Government are refusing licenses for the export of coal to Spain. They cordially agree with this policy especially as they hope soon to arrive at an arrangement with the Spanish Government by which Spain will definitely agree in future to economize tonnage by obtaining her supplies of coal from the United Kingdom. Eventually, however, they hope to arrive at an agreement with the Altos Hornos Co. in Spain to undertake a long-term contract to carry Spanish iron ore to the United Kingdom. This company is understood to have sent certain Spanish steamers to the United States to load coal but to have been refused export licenses. In the eventuality of this contract being concluded, the British Government would be glad to know whether the United States Government could license shipments of coal to the company by the steamers now in the United States ports if that course became desirable in connection with this contract.
It would be convenient to have an answer to these questions at an early moment.
[Page 950]

(2) For the information of the board

As before stated the British Government have arranged to suspend the issue of licenses for exports from the United Kingdom of goods embargoed by the United States Government to the Scandinavian countries and Holland with a few necessary exceptions of which a list has already been given.1 Arrangements have now been made for similar action to be taken by the Government of India, the Governments of the Crown Colonies and Protectorates and the Governments of Australia, Canada, Newfoundland, New Zealand and South Africa. Special measures are understood to have been taken to prevent exports of rice for the present.

(3) For the information of the board

Some time ago the board were informed that the British Government had offered to buy the Danish cargoes of oil cake now in United States ports subject to the consent of the United States Government. It has now been found impossible to carry this oil cake to the United Kingdom except in Danish vessels and the Danes refuse to carry it. The Danish Chargé d’Affaires in London has therefore been told that a market may be found for the oil cake in the United States. The British Government would be glad to know in due course what happens in regard to these cargoes.

(4) Holland

Besides the questions of the “free” imports of coffee, tobacco and cinchona from the Dutch colonies, the intention of the Dutch Government to transit the whole German winter supply of sand and gravel for the trenches from Germany to Belgium before November 15 and the question of the transit of metals from Belgium to Germany, the question of smuggling from Holland to Germany is a most important one. The Embassy has in its possession a number of reports of smuggling by Dutch labourers crossing the frontier. The smuggling traffic goes on without check to an enormous extent. The British Government also desires to submit for consideration the question of the export from Holland to Germany of articles other than foodstuffs such for instance as the scrap metal exports.

The British Government would be glad to learn the views and intentions of the United States Government on these points as well as regards the export of fish, cattle and agricultural produce.

With regard, however, to the question of “free” imports, the British Government are now in communication with the Netherlands Oversea Trust with a view, if possible, to securing the complete stoppage [Page 951] of all free imports and they therefore particularly desire to come to an understanding with the United States Government on this point as soon as possible.

(5) For the information of the board

Swedish transit: During July nearly 7,000 tons were forwarded to Finland. On August 1 there were 23,000 tons of transit goods in Sweden and Norway awaiting forwarding to Russia. Transit licenses are still required for over 17,000 tons. Traffic could be easily increased but for the difficulty in obtaining transit licenses.

(6) For the information of the board

Norwegian canning industry: The “black canners” have decided to undercut the prices paid by the “white canners” to the fishermen. This will mean that in the future still larger quantities of canned goods will go to enemy countries.

(7) For the information of the board

Denmark: Offers which the British Government had made to Denmark before the entry of the United States into the war for rations of certain articles have recently matured, and the British Government have been obliged to agree, so far as they are concerned, to these rations. The following is a list of rations thus recently fixed:

  • Spiegeleisen, 250 tons a quarter.
  • Canned fruit, fruit pulp and fruit preserves, 50 tons a quarter.

(8) In dealing with Scandinavian countries, the British Government have found great difficulty in regard to exports from those countries to Holland not consigned to the Netherlands Oversea Trust. These shipments are frequently declared in transit through Holland. A demand is now being made on the Norwegian Government that all exports from Norway to Holland shall be consigned to the Netherlands Oversea Trust. Swedish exports are, of course, still going free of all control. The British Government hope that the United States Government will bear this point in mind.

  1. List not printed; see memorandum of Aug. 25 from the British Embassy to the Department of State, ante, p. 928.