The Netherlands Minister (Van Royen) to the Secretary of State

No. 3225

Sir: After having taken cognizance of a press release, issued by the Federal Trade Commission, according to which the American petroleum interests, in consequence of restrictive laws of the Dutch East Indies, should have been practically excluded from working in those countries, and in view of the reluctance of the United States authorities to consider the Netherlands, with regard to oil and mining policy, as a “reciprocating” country my predecessor had the honor to point out to the then Secretary of State in a letter dated May 17, 1923, No. 1580,2 that neither the existing laws nor the facts could prove the desire of the Dutch Government to exclude the American interests from petroleum winning in the Netherlands East Indies. In fact he showed, that there does not exist in our colonies any monopoly of Dutch groups, but on the contrary, that several foreign interests have a great number of concessions for mining, oil and agricultural purposes.

He pointed out further that all “inhabitants” of the Dutch East Indies or corporations, having on their board a majority of inhabitants of the Dutch East Indies, are admitted to enter into contract with the Government for mining petroleum, and that it is for an American in the Dutch East Indies only a question of certain simple formalities to become “inhabitant” of our Colonies. As a result of this, several mining and agricultural enterprises operating with American capital are working in the Netherlands East Indies. As an example I may add, that the “Nationale Koloniale Petroleum Maatschappij”, a subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company of New York [New Jersey] has acquired a great many prospecting licenses [Page 376]from the Government and is operating a considerable number of concessions.

In order to prove more clearly still the “open door” policy, which has always been followed by the Netherlands East Indies Government, I am now instructed by my Government to inform Your Excellency, that by Royal Message of April 27th of this year, a bill has been introduced in Parliament at The Hague, in order to obtain the necessary authorization for contracting with the “Nederlandsche Koloniale Petroleum Maatschappij”, (the above mentioned subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company of New York [New Jersey] for the purpose of issuing her four tracts of petroleum lands for exploration and exploitation. This bill has been well received and reported by the Second Chamber of our Parliament and will probably pass in this session.

Further I am instructed to inform Your Excellency that the Netherlands Government has the intention, after this project will become Law, to continue taking the same line in future with regard to the issuing of oil lands.

In view of these facts, the. Royal Netherlands Government expresses the wish, that now the Government of the United States may declare the Netherlands a reciprocating country regarding the American “Land Leasing Act of 1920”.3

Although the Netherlands Government is quite willing to continue the aforesaid line of conduct with respect to issuing oil lands, it could only take the responsibility of doing so, if the Government of the United States were willing to make the above mentioned declaration of reciprocity.

Considering the open door policy followed by the Netherlands East Indies Government and the equal rights that exist in our colonies regarding foreigners and foreign capital interested in all sorts of enterprises for purposes of oil production as well as agriculture. I venture to express the hope, that the United States authorities will see their way to make the above mentioned declaration. I should feel greatly obliged if Your Excellency would lend his kind intermediary in order that the necessary propositions be made to the United States Government to that end.

Please accept [etc.]

J. H. van Royen
  1. Not printed.
  2. 41 Stat. 437.