Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Hickerson) of a Conversation With the Counselor of the Canadian Legation (Wrong)
In a conversation in my office with Mr. Wrong this morning, he referred to the President’s recent announcement that Sweden, Portugal, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina were to be invited to engage in informal conversations with the United States looking to trade agreements and said that there would undoubtedly be some mention made of the fact in Canada that the Dominion was not included in this list. I told Mr. Wrong that when Prime Minister Bennett was in Washington last April, we had explained in full to him the procedure which we desired to adopt in connection with a reciprocal trade agreement with Canada; that we had pointed out that it was the President’s intention to request Congress to authorize him to negotiate trade agreements which would not have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate and that we had hoped that such authority would be conferred upon the President by the special session of Congress which adjourned in the middle of June. I explained to Mr. Wrong that as he was aware it had not been possible for the President to present such legislation to Congress and that we do not as yet know whether the President will consider it advisable to ask the next session of Congress to confer such authority upon him.
I stated that during our conversations with the Prime Minister here in April, it had become apparent that the Governments of both countries desire a trade agreement as soon as possible. I added that notwithstanding the great desirability of such an agreement from the standpoint of both countries, there would be considerable opposition in the United States and probably also in Canada to an agreement of the comprehensive nature which I was sure both Governments would like to negotiate. I pointed out that it would probably be difficult to obtain a two-thirds majority in the Senate for the sort of trade agreement which the President and the Prime Minister had in mind at the time of their conversations in April; that a trade agreement in the form of a regular treaty would thus necessarily have to contain less in the way of tariff reductions than would be the case of an agreement of the sort which [Page 51] we had contemplated at the time the tariff bargaining bill was drafted last spring. I added that in my opinion until we knew definitely what our general method of approach was going to be it would be useless to discuss a trade agreement further with the Canadian Government. I went on to say that I had no doubt that upon Secretary Hull’s return from London he would go into this matter fully with the President with the view of obtaining a decision as to the precise form which our trade agreements will take.
I explained that the countries which had been invited to enter upon informal conversations with us had been selected because of the fact that the products which they export to the United States present fewer difficulties and complexities than in the case of other countries. At this point, Mr. Wrong raised the question of whether this was true of Argentina, and I replied that it was not, but that that country had been added at the earnest insistence of the Argentine Ambassador here, who is firmly of the opinion that there is abundant room for a satisfactory trade agreement between the United States and the Argentine, despite the fact that their principal exports are products which we also produce in large quantities.
I emphasized the fact that we are keenly desirous of entering upon negotiations with Canada as soon as we know the type of agreement which we will be in a position to conclude, and that if we had selected a list of countries for negotiations from the standpoint of the importance of trade relations with the United States, Canada would, of course, have been at the head of the list.