The Swedish Chargé ( Assarsson ) to the Secretary of State

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the decisions taken under date of March 10th and 14th, by the Secretary of the United States Treasury, when Collectors of Customs were instructed to prohibit the importation and refuse delivery of all merchandise manufactured and exported by or for the account of Fiskeby Fabriks A/B and Holmens Bruks och Fabriks A/B, both of Norrkoping, Sweden, on the ground that said firms had failed to submit for inspection, for the purpose of obtaining information therefrom as required by Section 510 of the Tariff Act of 1922,2 certain of their records relative to the value and classification of said merchandise manufactured by it and exported to the United States.

The Swedish Government, who are reluctant to believe that the United States Government would require Swedish firms to disclose their books, and consequently their trade secrets, as a possible condition for the importation of Swedish goods into this country, are of the opinion that—especially in the two cases referred to—such a requirement would appear difficult to justify. In both cases it was stated to the Swedish firms by the Treasury Department’s representative, Mr. Turrill, that the purpose of said investigations was to ascertain the proper value on which the American duty on the imported merchandise should be assessed and to obtain an explanation as to why the goods shipped by the two Swedish firms had been sold at a price lower than the prevailing Swedish market value.

It might be recalled that the Swedish Paper Association has always been most willing to assist the representatives of the Treasury Department in their efforts to secure information desired with regard to Swedish shipments of paper to the United States. When, therefore, Mr. Turrill applied to the Paper Association last January and asked to have explained to him why a shipment of 200 tons [Page 726] newsprint, sold by Holmens Bruks och Fabriks A/B in May 1924 to an American firm, was quoted at a lower price than that quoted to the Swedish newspapers for the same kind of paper during the year 1924, such explanation was given. It was pointed out to Mr. Turrill that contracts for delivery of newsprint during a certain year to the Swedish newspapers were generally closed several months ahead and at a fixed price, independent of the future fluctuations of the market. Thus, contracts for delivery of newsprint to the Swedish newspapers during the year 1924 were generally closed some time during the autumn 1923, at the market price then prevailing, and said market price had been considerably higher than the price quoted in May 1924, due to later fluctuations. In order to verify its statements, the Paper Association had shown Mr. Turrill authentic figures concerning the fluctuations in the prices of paper on the American market during 1924.

Holmens Bruks och Fabriks A/B had also explained to Mr. Turrill all the different items which justified the difference between domestic price agreed upon during the fall of 1923 and an export price for immediate delivery in May 1924 and had even shown him the contract made with the Swedish newspapers in the fall of 1923 as well as the invoice covering the shipment in May 1924 to the United States, which information, in the firm’s opinion, offered ample proof and must be regarded as fully satisfying the purpose of the said investigation. Not till Mr. Turrill expressed a desire to take copies of the documents in question did the firm refuse to go further in their efforts to meet his wishes, as, in their opinion, such a request seemed wholly unwarranted in view of the information already given, and inconsistent, not only with the Swedish law protecting trade secrets, but also with the ordinary canons of international usage.

In these circumstances I have the honor, acting upon instructions from my Government, to make a formal protest against the above mentioned orders issued by the Secretary of the Treasury and to ask that you will be so good as to approach the competent United States authorities in this matter. I trust that they will be disposed to reconsider their decision and to remove, without delay, the barrier which has been placed against the importation into this country of products of Fiskeby Fabriks A/B and Holmens Bruks Fabriks A/B.

With renewed assurances [etc.]

V. Assarsson
  1. 42 Stat. 858, 968.