651.116 Nitrate/32: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Edge ) to the Secretary of State

616. Your 457, September 22, noon. The Foreign Office was promptly informed by a member of my staff of the substance of your telegram under reference and it was left under no doubt as to our attitude about contributions and quotas. My representative was told that it was extremely doubtful whether the plan of contributions would be adopted by the Nitrate Commission. Under existing economic conditions in Europe particularly since the general application of the export and import prohibitions convention42 has failed, there does not seem any likelihood of the French Government undertaking to refrain from establishing quotas in cases of emergency. Were France still judicially bound by that agreement, the impression is gained that as the nitrates unit quota would be defended by France on the basis of a government controlled monopoly and as to lumber on a basis of anti-dumping, neither of which appears to be contrary to this convention. In the French Government’s proposals made at [Page 264] Geneva in May 1931 great reliance was put on quotas as a substitute for high tariffs in reorganizing European economy.

Regarding the question of nitrates, my representative discussed at length the necessity of protecting trade which is just beginning in a country, such as American nitrates shipped to France, and the point was stressed that in all fairness to such new business, a reasonable quota should be granted regardless of the amounts allowed to other countries based on previous importations. The Foreign Office was told that it was understood that the American nitrate interests had requested a quota of 50,000 metric tons but that the Nitrate Commission contemplated allowing only 10,000; that the latter figure seemed too small and that we should be allowed a very much larger quantity. The Foreign Office has promised to do what it can to obtain an increased amount for the United States.

  1. International Convention and Protocol for the Abolition of Import and Export Prohibitions and Restrictions, signed at Geneva, November 8, 1927, Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. i, p. 336.