The Minister in Greece (Skinner) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 4.]
Sir: I have the honor to report that a special commission of the Greek Chamber, consisting of 27 members, has been created to consider and decide upon the application or not of an increased import duty on flour. It seems that under the Pangalos Government a legislative decree was issued on October 7, 1926, substantially increasing the then prevailing duty on flour, but, following protests from merchants and consumers, the decree was abrogated almost immediately, leaving the duty where it had been before. It also appears to be the case that the domestic mills are capable of supplying only about 80% of the Greek requirements.
Immediately upon receipt of information that the matter was pending, and that the effect of a higher duty would be to demoralize, and perhaps prevent, any further American trade in flour in this country, I called upon the Foreign Minister and expressed the hope that he would use his influence to prevent the change now proposed from taking place. I pointed out to Mr. Michalakopoulos that in the present state of the Greek milling industry the application of a higher duty on flour would certainly be passed on to the Greek consumer without any obvious corresponding advantage. I pointed out that Greek millers already had the monopoly of the grinding of the entire Greek wheat crop, and would necessarily develop their [Page 23]industry by the anticipated increase in the domestic crop due to extended acreage. I pointed out, also, that exportations of Greek tobacco, currants and carpets alone to the United States were many times more considerable than purchases of American natural commodities by Greece, and I therefore strongly urged upon him the importance of continuing the importation of flour on terms to which the trade is accustomed, in the interest of fair trade relations as well as in the interest of the Greek consuming public.
As the parliamentary commission examining this question is composed in part of Mr. Kommandaros, a miller, and Mr. Stringos, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Piraeus, who are understood to be opposed to the comparatively low duty of recent years, there is a strong possibility that they may succeed in making their views prevail.
I shall acquaint the Department with any developments in this matter. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is in a position at this time only to accept my observations and to assure me that they will be given due and sympathetic weight.
I have [etc.]