The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Great Britain ( Laughlin )
2904. For Sheldon [from War Trade Board]: No. 1655. Inference is made to our No. 1634.10 We have just read Ship Mission’s cablegram No. 815, Nov. 17, 1918, from Tower to Gay, with relation to British relaxation of import restrictions.11 We now feel that it is advisable to go further than outlined in our 1634 in the matter of giving notice of relaxations of import restrictions, and to notify our associates in the war of proposed relaxations 1 week in advance of the time when they are put into effect to the end that, [Page 737]if our associates so desire, there may be an opportunity for the receipt of comments upon, and a discussion of, each proposed relaxation. A mutual arrangement between ourselves and Great Britain providing for such notice would further insure a complete understanding with regard to action taken during the present transition period when tonnage is so short. We wish you would discuss this proposal with the British authorities with a view to completing this mutual arrangement for the advance notification of proposed relaxations of import restrictions. We are discussing the same matter with Sir Richard Crawford here.
As a first step in the carrying out of this arrangement, you should immediately notify the British authorities that we will announce and make effective on November 27th the following regulations which constitute a relaxation of prior restrictions upon the importation of hides and skins:
“During a period of 90 days from and after November 27, 1918, licenses may be granted for the importation of all grades of hides…
“Licenses for the foregoing imports will be allocated among importers by a committee appointed by the Board, which committee may, in its discretion, change the foregoing schedule of distribution among various grades.”
The foregoing is, of course, confidential until November 27, 1918. Please advise us promptly of any comments made by the British authorities. Please show this cablegram to Tower.