The Secretary of State to the Minister in Latvia (Skinner)

No. 182

Sir: Reference is made to the Legation’s despatch No. 1192 of March 3, 1933,1 reporting on the conference of American Government officers in Latvia, and more particularly to page 4 [2] of enclosure thereto where the following discussion with respect to trade promotion is set down in the report of the conference:

“The Commercial Attaché, Mr. Morse, reported that he had not noticed any tendency on the part of the Latvian Foreign Exchange Committee to discontinue its discrimination against importers of products from the United States. Four specific instances came to his attention since the last meeting where representatives of American firms had received orders from Latvian Government departments for goods manufactured in the United States and in each the Foreign Exchange Committee had refused to authorize the importers to pay for the goods in dollars. In each of these instances the importers were instructed by the Latvian Foreign Exchange Committee to place the order in countries other than the United States, regardless of the fact that to do so would increase the cost to the departments requiring the goods.”

The report of the proceedings of the conference fails to record what action, if any, was taken by the Legation in connection with these four cases which, in so far as the facts are set forth by Mr. Morse, appear to constitute discrimination against American trade by officials of the Latvian Government. There is nothing in the report to show whether the Legation called upon the Commercial Attaché to furnish it with specific and detailed information regarding these cases with a view to making representations, either formally or informally, to the Latvian Foreign Office with regard to such discrimination against American trade.

The Department has noted in a number of other reports of the proceedings of the conferences of American officers at Riga similar statements regarding discrimination by Latvian officials against American trade. Mention in this connection is made among others of the Legation’s [Page 603] despatch No. 1096 of January 26, 1933,2 in which on page 2 you discuss such discrimination, and in the enclosure to which on pages 4 and 5 the Commercial Attaché reported in general terms allegations of discriminatory actions. It is noted that no reference is made in these reports of any action taken or contemplated by the Legation in the protection of American interests suffering as a result of this alleged discrimination; nor has the Legation reported in subsequent individual despatches any action taken by it in connection with the various points raised in the discussions at the conferences in question of alleged discrimination against American trade.

The Department suggests that cases involving discrimination brought to the attention either of the Legation or the Consulate from whatever source be subjected to a careful and exhaustive scrutiny with a view to the determination of their merits and the basis of any possible protest to the competent Latvian authorities. If the Commercial Attaché should, in the work of his office in connection with the promotion of American trade, become conversant with and report to the Legation cases, similar to those referred to in the above quotation, which appear to involve discrimination, he should be directed to submit promptly to the Legation in writing a report containing detailed information of a factual character covering the cases. The Legation should then itself make, or call upon the Consulate to make, such supplementary investigation as may be necessary to determine the additional facts essential to a proper consideration of the case which may not have been available to the office of the Commercial Attaché.

As the Department has already pointed out to the Legation in its instruction No. 90 of August 2, 1932,2 the function of protecting the interests of American trade is inherently a prerogative and an obligation of the Department and its representatives abroad. The Department expects its representatives in the field to take prompt and appropriate measures in the protection of American commercial interests when cases involving discrimination against our trade come to their attention.

In order that the Department may have an accurate record of laws, regulations and acts tending to discriminate against American trade, the Legation is directed to submit quarterly beginning April 1, 1933, a survey of its activities in protecting American trade. This survey, which is not intended to supplant reports on important individual developments of this nature, should outline for the preceding quarter the new legislation, regulations, and practices which operate to restrict or to discriminate against American trade, list the specific instances of discrimination coming to the attention of the Legation, and report the action taken by [Page 604] the Legation and the results thereof. It is anticipated that the Legation and the Consulate will cooperate to the fullest extent in the performance of this important work.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Wilbur J. Carr
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