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

No. 146

Sir: Referring to the Legation’s despatch No. 130 of August 18th, I have the honor to inclose an Aide-Mémoire which Mr. Winship was asked to leave with Mr. Mohr, Chief of the Economic Division in the Foreign Office on September 12th and Mr. Winship’s Memorandum.

Mr. Mohr was informed that I did not bring this protest personally since I was awaiting an answer to my similar communication of August 18th.

If and when a reply is received the Department will be promptly informed.

The present case is the most glaring one of discrimination which has come to the attention of the Legation.

While the Consulate General and the office of the Commercial Attaché continue to receive complaints, I have informed both that no further protests will be made to the Foreign Office unless by special instructions from the Department.

It is likely that the Department will await the promised reply from the Foreign Office before further instructions.

Respectfully yours,

F. W. B. Coleman
[Enclosure 1]

The American Legation to the Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs


The attention of the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs is again invited by the American Legation to a clear case of discrimination against the commerce of the United States practiced by a legal agency of the Royal Danish Government by the refusal of the Exchange Control Board to permit Mr. Joh. Ph. Beck, H. C. Ørstedsvej 28, Copenhagen, to import material from the United States.

Mr. Beck is the representative of the United States Gypsum Company in Denmark. He has accepted orders for “Sheetrock” wall board to be used in buildings here now under construction.

His request for permission to import has been refused Respite the fact that he did not ask for or require foreign exchange in payment of such imports. The matter of exchange does not enter into this case.

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While specifically refusing its permission to Mr. Beck to import such material ordered from him by the builders of the new Magasin du Nord structure, the Exchange Control Board has granted a permit to Mr. P. Monberg of Copenhagen to import wall board material manufactured in Great Britain which has never before been imported into Denmark and which costs 17 per cent more than the United States products.

Mr. Beck is authority for the facts and figures mentioned and there is no reason to doubt them.

Assuming their truth, the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs is respectfully requested to bring to the notice of the Exchange Control Board their discrimination against the commerce of the United States and to inquire whether the Board purposes to continue its refusal to permit such imports by Mr. Beck even when no request for foreign exchange is contemplated.

Considering the serious damage and prejudice to the present commerce of the United States with Denmark, which the case cited above so plainly illustrates, it will be appreciated if the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs will furnish the American Legation the information requested with all possible despatch in order that the United States Government may be fully and promptly apprised of the policy of the Royal Danish Government in respect to present and future American commerce.

The American Minister, who is principally charged with the fostering of the most friendly relations between the two Nations, by Treaty confirmed, begs His Excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to employ his good offices in removing those present obstacles to the fair and just commercial relations between Denmark and the United States which, until now, have endured without prejudice for over a hundred years.

[Enclosure 2]

Memorandum by the Counselor of the American Legation (Winship)

In presenting the attached note7 to Mr. Mohr, Director of the Political-Economic Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mohr stated that it was quite possible that this case as well as others had occurred, but that this procedure was in no way discriminatory.

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He referred again to the sliding scale on which import permits by countries are granted based on the import and export statistics covering the last 3-year period with the diminishing or increasing returns for the countries whose imports from Denmark decreased or increased during the present year. This quota system Mr. Mohr insists as in the past is applied to all countries and has been carefully studied by the Danish treaty experts who find that there is no semblance of discrimination or danger of forcing treaty abrogation.

He stated that a more detailed expose of his Government’s attitude and practice in the circumstances would be sent to the Legation and that the other Governments interested had already signified their acceptance of the present temporary quota system.

He assured me that any initiative on the part of officers of the Exchange Control Board to prejudice importers against American goods in favor of British was not authorized, and that he would make specific inquiries in a further effort to stop same.

In reply to inquiry he said he believed that the present import restrictions would continue until January 1, but would then cease as by that time importers would realize the diminishing purchasing power of the public and the expected reduction in demand would by that time be patent. He also believed that no special agreement or arrangement will be reached with England, but that a few schedules of the Danish tariff would be increased, effective January 1, as a further protection against the importation of luxuries.

During the entire interview Mr. Mohr was earnest and gracious and apparently very sincere in his desire to make his points clear.

North Winship
  1. Enclosure 1, supra.