File No. 611.006/501e

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page)


1127. The Department after consultation with the War Trade Board advises you as follows:

[Page 519]

In order to meet the continuing heavy demand on tonnage for its army program, the United States is committed to a policy of drastic reduction of imports in order to release tonnage for military purposes. The progress of such policy is indicated by the following figures for the years 1918 and 1919, which figures exclude tanker traffic and back haul from Europe: The estimated long tons necessary for overseas imports in 1918 are 12,000,000 requiring deadweight tons 2,400,000. The estimated long tons necessary for overseas imports in 1919 are 11,500,000 requiring deadweight tons 1,900,000. These figures include surplus of imports of commodities such as vegetable oils from transpacific to release corresponding transatlantic shipments to Allies. For 1919, not all necessary imports will come in vessels controlled by the United States, but the figure of estimated deadweight tons required is believed to be lower than amount under the United States control, which is actually unavailable for war zone use.

The War Trade Board of the United States pledges itself to the policy of eliminating non-essentials, reducing necessary importation to the lowest possible amounts, and preventing the utilization of ships suitable for war zone work by cargo for trades which are not essential to the conduct of the military program or the maintenance of the civilian population. In case any circumstances should appear indicating a failure to adhere to the foregoing policy, the War Trade Board would be happy to have the circumstances referred to it for such action or explanation as may be appropriate.

The foregoing should be communicated by you at once to Sheldon, and it is desired that you and he at once take steps informally to acquaint British officials and commercial leaders and American representatives with the foregoing statement. It is believed that Lord Reading should be furnished with the foregoing declaration. It is hoped that this can be advantageously used to strengthen the hands of those who are opposing that element which Department understands is endeavoring to secure an increased utilization of British tonnage for commercial purposes not essential to the prosecution of the war. Additional and more detailed data bearing on imports will be sent in subsequent cable.