651.116 Nitrate/45: Telegram

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

914. Reference Department’s telegraphic instruction 671, December 30, 6 p.m. Department’s understanding is correct that contract given to Germany, precise amount not definitely known but presumed to be about 150,000 tons nitrate, for agricultural use with rumored option for some 100,000 tons additional.

As to Barrett Company’s feeling that “it has not received equality of treatment as it was given opportunity to bid on only relatively small tonnage on terms which required almost immediate acceptance and that accordingly it was unable to negotiate”, following are facts.

Regarding “immediate acceptance” the market opportunity was known and negotiations in progress since September. On December 22 at 10 a.m. French Comptoir da Zote [de l’Azote] offered to buy from Barrett 50,000 tons at 85 francs f. o. b. cars French ports with option for additional 50,000 tons for acceptance by 2 p.m. same day. Due to intervention of Embassy and Commercial Attaché several progressive extensions of time limit were obtained, first to morning December 23, then to 7 p.m. that day, provided German acceptance not received before that time and again to 4 p.m., December 24 and finally to 7 p.m. that date. As a matter of fact German acceptance was not received until December 26.

Referring to Barrett Company’s complaint of “relatively small tonnage” permitted them the Embassy had previously reported that nitrate imports are controlled entirely by the French quota system and as no imports had been received from the United States in recent years any tonnage permitted was just that much additional concession to the United States.

We are informed that Barrett Company had no definite objections to condition offer but it was said to be necessary for the offer to be [Page 267] studied by several committees of the company although the general problem had been under consideration for some 3 months. Furthermore, the local representative of the Barrett Company had stated to the Embassy that a decision should be possible within an ordinary business day.

Conditions offered to Germany of 83 francs c. i. f. French ports were no more favorable than those of offer to American company and in neither case did question of direct assessment figure so that responsibility would seem to rest directly with the company.

Relative to possible additional purchases Barrett Company’s representative here is already negotiating with regard thereto. The Embassy will continue to cooperate in every possible way.