The Minister in Denmark (Coleman) to the Secretary of State

No. 130

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that I have again protested in the Foreign Office against the refusal of the Exchange Control Board to grant permits for the importation of American goods, citing a clear case of discrimination.

Following my conversation with the Foreign Minister an Aide-Mémoire was left with him, a copy of which is inclosed.

The Minister stated that the Government intended to cut down importations from all countries in proportion as the purchases from Denmark were reduced. He would not discuss cases of discrimination cited now and previously but complained of our tariff on butter.

The Department will appreciate my difficulty in persuading him that the tariff on butter had nothing to do with the subject of our conversation.

I would like to have asked him what the Government was prepared to do in case the tariff on butter was lowered.

When American accounts in Denmark are being abandoned or reduced under governmental pressure exercised, according to our lights, by discrimination and, hence, the violation of our Treaty with Denmark, some action, other than protest unheeded, should be taken.

Giving notice to terminate a treaty over a hundred years old is not recommended. The Foreign Minister has stated publicly that it might be necessary for Denmark to renounce some of her treaties with other countries in pursuance of her “new economic policy”. It is for Denmark to take the initiative.

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As was briefly suggested in my despatch No. 124 of August 15, 1932,6 certain important international American corporations might join in persuading the New York City banks to decline to renew short term loans or refunding Danish obligations in the United States except with the express stipulation that such funds shall not be used to finance Denmark’s trade with other countries and that such funds shall be held as a dollar exchange account.

As for the tariff on butter of 14 cents a pound, I am not prepared to make any proposal or suggestion of bargain however gladly the Danes would listen to such.

Without further instructions from the Department it will serve no good purpose to continue protests in cases as they may continue to arise.

Respectfully yours,

F. W. B. Coleman

The American Legation to the Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs


On April 8, 1932, the American Minister presented an Aide-Mémoire to the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which were cited two cases of apparent discrimination against the commerce of the United States with Denmark. At that time the Minister was assured that no discrimination was being made against the commerce of any nation in pursuance of an economic policy of the Royal Danish Government then in effect.

While the Treaty between Denmark and the United States stipulates that the rules governing relations between the two countries shall be “clear and positive” and “frank and equally friendly with all”, the Minister was not informed on what basis or by what existing regulations the Exchange Control Board was exercising legal authority in acting upon the applications of importers to obtain licenses to import American products.

The Minister was told that the regulations or policy of the Royal Danish Government were secret and confidential.

The attention of the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is respectfully invited to the following case:

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In February Mr. Rudolph Schmidt, an importer of American Radio sets informed the Legation that his firm had applied for import permits and exchange certificates for

Kr. 15,000 worth of radios and parts from the United States;
Kr. 10,000 England;
Kr. 5,000 Germany.

The Legation is now informed that all requests for permits for American and German Radio products have been refused, while import permits for British radios and parts were granted.

This firm has therefore been obliged to abandon its American connection and in the last few months have imported British radio sets and products up to about Kr. 50,000.

The American Minister is aware of the public statement of the Chief of the Exchange Control Board to the effect that the Board had done very well in diverting trade from such countries who bought little from Denmark to those who purchased the most. This naturally raises the query how and by what means the Royal Danish Government, through its legal agencies, does divert the trade of its citizens from one country to another.

Recent figures available support the statement made, namely: Compared with trade during the first six months of 1931, American imports declined 30 per cent while imports from Great Britain increased 13 per cent in 1932, and during the month of June this year American imports declined 59 per cent while imports from Great Britain increased 22 1/2 per cent as compared with the same period last year.

If the policy and practice applied to the trade of the firm of Rudolph Schmidt is generally applied to importers of American goods, the figures quoted above are readily accounted for.

The American Legation respectfully inquires whether the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be good enough to inquire into the particular case cited and communicate its findings to the Minister.

The United States Government is confident that the Danish Government will, through the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, promptly invite the attention of the Exchange Control Board to any practice or policy which savors of discrimination against its trade and, in every way promote those friendly relations confirmed by treaty and natural in the intercourse between the two peoples.

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