662.7131/57: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Germany (Sackett)

26. Your 51, March 8, 11 a.m. Your telegram indicates that there is misapprehension on the part of the German Foreign Office concerning the American attitude in respect of the proposed arrangements whereby Germany would grant preference to cereals from Rumania and Hungary. On October 10 last, the German Ambassador called at the Department and left copies of the Treaties between Germany and Rumania and Germany and Hungary71—both signed last summer, wherein the German Government obligated itself to admit preferentially vaguely specified quantities of cereals from each of those two countries for a period of 2 years, provided that Germany could get the countries with which she has most-favored-nation treaties to agree to such a procedure. The German Ambassador left no written communication but stated that if we wanted to protest on account of the principle involved he hoped we would do so before November 1, and that if we did not wish formally to protest we would not be expected to give our approval to the treaties but merely not say anything.

A few days before November 1 the German Embassy was informed orally by the Under Secretary of State that this matter presented certain difficult questions of law and policy and that the Department would not be in a position to give him a definite reply by November 1. The Under Secretary informed the German Embassy that we would not consider ourselves bound by the date, November 1, but that we would give him a reply as soon as practicable. While the whole matter was still under consideration and before we reached a final decision we learned that several countries, including Argentina, one of the largest grain exporting countries, had interposed objection to the proposed preferences, and we took it for granted that the whole scheme had therefore fallen through. In these circumstances, no decision by this Government in this matter seemed to be necessary. It should, therefore, be clearly understood that the silence of this Government on the question does not in any sense indicate acquiescence in the proposed arrangements.

I propose to ask the German Ambassador to call at the Department [Page 340] and to inform him in the sense of the foregoing. In order that there may be no possible misunderstanding on this point, I believe that it might be a good idea for you to call at the Foreign Office and explain to them in a casual way the exact position of the American Government in this matter; this, however, I leave to your discretion. No mention will be made to the German Ambassador of the conversation reported in your 51. In discussing this matter with the German Ambassador I shall refer to a dispatch from Berlin in yesterday’s New York Times to the effect that “Russia, India and Argentina had withdrawn their protests against the preferential tariff agreements Germany has concluded with Hungary and Rumania”; you may wish to refer to this news article in your conversations at the Foreign Office. For your own information only, in accordance with an informal understanding with certain Chiefs of Mission in Washington we shall communicate the substance of the present telegram to the diplomatic representatives here of Argentina, Sweden and Denmark.

  1. For the German-Rumanian treaty, see the Supplemental Protocol of December 19, 1931, to the German-Rumanian Commercial Agreement of June 18, 1930, (which incorporated the major principles of the German-Rumanian treaty of June 27, 1931, which was never put into force), Reichsgesetzblatt, vol. ii, December 31, 1931, pp. 693 ff. For the German-Hungarian treaty, signed July 18, 1931, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cl, p. 111.