Memorandum by Mr. Edward Page, Jr., of the Division of European Affairs to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: The Soviet Ambassador, who is calling on Thursday, June 29, at 11 a.m., states that he wishes to discuss American-Soviet economic and trade questions. Specifically, he desires to take up with you the question of Soviet manganese exports to the United States.

The Soviet Government has endeavored during recent years to increase its sales of manganese in this country. You may recall that in the course of the negotiations of the 1938–1939 Commercial Agreement with the Soviet Union the Soviet authorities desired to obtain the promise from the United States Government that in the purchase of foreign manganese ores for governmental needs preference would be given to Soviet manganese ore. The Soviet authorities were informed by our Embassy in Moscow that any such procedure would [Page 816] be contrary to the policies and practices of the United States Government.

The Soviet exports of manganese ore to the United States during the last three years have been as follows:

Manganese Ore* Imports into the United States
(000 Pounds)

Total Imports From U.S.S.R. Soviet Share
1936 1,737,000 649,300 37%
1937 1,767,300 860,000 49%
1938 1,083,200 372,000 34%

The United States imported considerably more manganese from the U. S. S. R. than from any other country. Other principal suppliers in 1938 were Cuba (26 percent of total), the Gold Coast (25 percent), and Brazil (6 percent).

It is possible that the Soviet Ambassador may wish to discuss with you the Thomas–Faddis Bill,18 authorizing the Government to buy large reserves of 17 strategic materials, including manganese, which are not produced at all or not in sufficient quantities in this country, and the possibility of increasing Soviet manganese sales.

You may be interested to know that a Mr. Leonard Buck,19 who is the exclusive distributor of Soviet manganese here in the United States, telephoned Mr. Henderson, Assistant Chief of the European Division, on June 28 to ask if the United States Government was interested in trading manganese for cotton. Mr. Buck was of the opinion that the Soviet Government might be interested in such an exchange if it could have immediate use of the cotton and were not obliged to store it for a considerable period of time. Mr. Henderson said that he was not in a position to state the Government’s attitude on this question and suggested that if Mr. Buck believes that the Soviet officials in charge of foreign trade matters are interested in an exchange such as that mentioned, he first ascertain from these officials precisely what they would like to do and then make a definite proposal based upon their desires.

  1. 35% or over of manganese content. [Footnote in the original.]
  2. The Act, providing for the purchase of strategic and critical materials for the common defense, was approved June 7, 1939; 53 Stat. 811.
  3. Leonard J. Buck, Inc., 1 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey.