611.6131/303: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the Soviet Union (Wiley)

71. You are instructed to seek an early interview with the Commissar for Foreign Affairs18 and to tell him informally that, in connection with the trade agreements which are now being negotiated by the United States with various countries, the Government of the United States is examining the treatment accorded by foreign countries to the importation of products of the United States with a view to determining whether tariff concessions specified in such agreements may be extended to imports from other countries. You should point out to Mr. Litvinoff that, as he is aware, there is no commercial treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union providing for the extension of such concessions to the Soviet Union. The Government of the United States, however, is favorably disposed towards extending to the Soviet Union tariff concessions granted other countries. But it is not in a position to generalize these concessions to the Soviet Union unless it has assurances that the policies and acts of the Soviet Government with respect to purchase of products of the United States will, not defeat the purpose of the trade agreement program, namely, the expansion of foreign markets for products of the United States by affording increased market opportunities for foreign products in the United States.

You should state that you are, therefore, approaching him to ascertain authoritatively the attitude of the Soviet Government with regard to the purchase of products of the United States, in particular, whether, if the Government of the United States generalizes to the Soviet Union modifications of duties and other import restrictions, specified in trade agreements with other countries, such action on the part of the United States would be reciprocated on the part of the Soviet Government by a substantial increase in the purchase of products of the United States. A trade agreement recently signed with Brazil,19 for instance, provides for a 50 percent reduction in the rate of duty on manganese ore. You should emphasize that it would be difficult for the Government of the United States to justify the generalization of this and other tariff concessions to the Soviet Union if such action on its part did not lead to a continuing and substantial increase in the exports of American goods to the Soviet Union.

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In view of the necessity of an early decision by this Government regarding the countries to which the generalization of tariff concessions will not be extended, a prompt reply from the Soviet Government is desired. If, as this Government hopes, the Soviet Government’s attitude toward the purchase of American products is such that increased American exports to the Soviet Union will result, the Government of the United States will extend to the Soviet Union concessions granted to other countries.

For your information and guidance. 1. Department considers it essential that the assurances of the Soviet Government be given in writing. 2. An offer on the part of the Soviet Government to extend most favored nation treatment to American imports or not to discriminate against American goods, would, in view of the Government monopoly of foreign trade, be valueless, and consequently completely unacceptable. In the opinion of the Department, the expansion of the market for American products in the Soviet Union as a result of increasing the market opportunities for Soviet products in the United States can be assured only through a commitment on the part of the Soviet Government to increase substantially its purchases in the United States.

Inform Department promptly by cable of results of your conversation with Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

  1. Maxim Maximovich Litvinov.
  2. For text of the agreement signed on February 2, 1935, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 82, or 49 Stat. 3808.