The Chairman of the Tariff Commission (O’Brien) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: The Tariff Commission has received your note of August 29 (File No. WE),5 in which you ask for comment upon an aide-mémoire presented by the Norwegian Legation.6 You ask particular comment on the suggestion put forward by the Norwegian Government that it would be advantageous to the American farmer for the United States to admit whale oil in greater quantities in order that edible oils might be exported in greater quantities.

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There is enclosed herewith a memorandum on whale oil, prepared in the Chemical Division of the Tariff Commission,7 in which you will observe it is stated that there may be merit in the argument presented by the Norwegian Government but that it is a difficult matter to appraise. You will observe also that the memorandum deals with the matter only from the point of view of the farmer and the soapmaker and that no attempt has been made to comment on other aspects of commercial policy.

Comment may be made on one other point in the aide-mémoire. The statement that in 1930 Norwegians purchased $9.60 per capita of American products while Americans purchased only $0.13 per capita of Norwegian products seems to add nothing of significance to the figures showing the disparity in the trade in the two directions. Smaller countries normally have a greater international trade per capita than larger countries, and normally the trade between a large country and a small one will constitute a small percentage of the trade of the large country and a large percentage of the trade of the small country. Another way of stating the matter is that the United States in 1930 bought from each Norwegian about 20 kroner worth of merchandise, whereas Norway bought from each American less than one kroner worth.

Very sincerely yours,

Robert L. O’Brien
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