File No. 800.88/328

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


9877. For President Wilson from Stevens:

In reporting to you the resolutions adopted by the Allied Maritime Transport Council,1 I stated that I would later send you fuller information in relation to recommendation of the Council that the United States should be represented on each of the Allied executives or program committees now existing or to be constituted for the purpose of agreeing upon the quantities of imports to be brought into Great Britain, France, Italy and the United States. This is the subject of the present cablegram.

When the inter-Allied conference in which Colonel House participated, held at Paris in November and December, 1917, decided upon the council [creation] of the Allied Maritime Transport Council it also resolved that for the purpose of adjusting the import requirements of the four Associated Governments to the capacity of the available tonnage, there should be formed Allied bodies modeled after the Wheat Executive to estimate and agree upon import requirements of the four countries and that the United States should be represented on these bodies.

It is in pursuance of this instruction from the Paris conference that the Allied Maritime Transport Council has recommended the creation of a sufficient number of Allied executives or program committees to cover all import requirements of the four countries and has further recommended that the United States should have a representative on each of such executives or program committees.

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As stated in my previous report, I refrained from voting on the resolution containing these recommendations because I thought that in the absence of instructions from my Government I ought not to take any official position in regard to the matter. My personal view, however, is that the creation of the proposed Allied bodies is essential to the successful working out of the plan of reducing import requirements within the carrying capacity of the tonnage available and apportioning this tonnage justly among the four nations. I also believe that representation of the United States on these bodies is essential to their effectiveness and would be advantageous to our Government.

It is contemplated that each executive or program committee will deal with one or more classes of imports such as wheat, meat and fats, sugar, vegetable oils, wool, cotton, etc. The executives or program committees are to be composed of representatives of the Associated Governments. It will be the duty of the representative of each Government to present a program of imports into his country of the commodity in question. Then all the representatives, after thoroughly studying together and mutually criticising these programs, are to agree upon a joint program. The agreement, of course, will not be concluded until after the assent thereto of the proper authority of the several Governments. When the various import programs have been agreed to in this way they will be submitted to the Allied Maritime Transport Council in order that it may recommend the necessary division and allocation of tonnage. In case the programs of imports agreed to in the manner described should still require more tonnage than is available, the Allied Maritime [Transport] Council, with aid of the several Allied executives or program committees, will have to consider and recommend the best way of meeting the deficit.

Among the existing executives the most effectively organized is the Wheat Executive. That executive has had a record of successful accomplishment extending over many months and everyone recognizes the importance of its services to the Allies but it is not necessary that all the new Allied bodies should be patterned closely after the Wheat Executive. All that is required for the purpose of the Allied Maritime Transport Council is that there should be joint Allied consideration of an agreement upon the import requirements of the four Associated nations. That is why the term program committee is used as a possible description of the proposed bodies. I agree with my colleagues on the Allied Maritime Transport Council in thinking that in order to deal effectively with an extremely serious deficit of tonnage, it is necessary, among other things, that the Associated Governments should consider together through technically competent representatives, their several import [Page 568] requirements, commodity by commodity, with a view to agreeing upon joint programs which, while providing for the essential war and civilian needs of the several countries, will reduce as far as possible the demands upon tonnage for these purposes. The plan I have the synopsis of is [designed] to provide the machinery for accomplishing the desired result.

The advantage to the United States from participation in the proposed plan is the opportunity that will be afforded to examine and discuss the import programs of the other countries so as to make sure (1) that the demands upon tonnage resulting therefrom are not unjustly great and (2) that the imports of those countries to be brought from the United States are not excessive in view of the requirements for supplying the United States and its people with the commodities so to be taken from the United States for use of the other countries.

In case you should approve of the proposed plan, it is desirable that the American representatives should be appointed and begin work as speedily as possible, as it is necessary that the various import programs should be agreed to and the allocation of tonnage made as early in the summer as practicable. Since the War Trade Board has had charge of the reduction of imports for the United States, it might be desirable to have it represented on the Allied executives or program committees in case you should decide to have the United States participate in carrying out the proposed plan. In case you approve the proposed plan, I will send you a list of existing executives and those that are proposed with full details concerning them. Stevens.

  1. Ante, p. 512.