The Minister in Rumania (Owsley) to the Secretary of State

No. 26

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the Department’s instruction No. 10 of October 13, 1933,46 relative to the difficulties which three American concerns have encountered in exporting their products into Rumania [Page 691] under the present Rumanian import quota system. The firms mentioned were namely:

  • Firestone Tire and Rubber Export Company, Akron, Ohio.
  • Atlas Asbestos Company, North Wales, Pennsylvania.
  • McLaughlin Gormley King Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As is well understood by the Department, we here have a very heavy burden cast upon us to overcome the discrimination the Rumanian import quota law places upon proposed American exporters into Rumania. There is an apparent direct discrimination against American goods and against American manufacturers and traders. The record is replete with unmistakable evidence of discrimination. The case of the General Railway Signal Company,47 now history, is only the beginning. This case loomed large because of the size of the contract and the extent of the effort made by the Legation to secure this contract for the American concern. Many other cases have accumulated, and now are accumulating, the three cases at hand among them.

In the mail on yesterday, Thursday, November 2, 1933, I transmitted a written communication to the Director General of the Rumanian State Railways, asking for the full payment to the Bedford Petroleum Company of 20,000 American dollars for a special quality of lubricating oil sold to the Government. This case would not be of any particular importance or significance but for the fact that a French concern having a like demand against the Rumanian Government was paid a week or so ago, and the American representative of the American concern had not been paid. There may be circumstances warranting a delay in payment of the American concern and a favoring of the French concern, but we were not able to discover them.

Within the last three weeks I personally called upon Mr. Gafencu, Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and pled the cause of the representatives of several American concerns, for entry permits and for increases in import allotments based on the import percentage of 1931 and 1932. The personal visit to the Under-Secretary was partially rewarded with success.

I have the honor to further call the attention of the Department to the past effort of the Legation through my predecessor, Mr. Charles S. Wilson, and the present Secretary of the Legation, Mr. J. C. Holmes, when acting as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at this Legation before I assumed charge. It has become a fixed opinion at this office now that we shall continue to have our troubles and that our difficulties will grow until a change in the present policy of the Government now in power is brought about. It is not beyond the realm of speculation to predict a very decided [Page 692] shake-up and change in the present Government, or its fall and complete loss of power. Only by constantly keeping at it and making frequent demands and personal calls upon those in authority in the Rumanian Government, yes, only by eternal vigilance, can we expect a partial measure of success for American concerns.

Less than three weeks ago I personally interviewed Mr. Madgearu, Minister of Finance, on a similar matter, and reminded him as forcefully as possible of the assurances given to the Government of the United States by the Rumanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as set forth in the Legation’s telegram No. 12 of June 15, 1933, six P.M., and the response was practically negative. At the same time Mr. Madgearu suggested that the United States Government and the Government of Rumania should hurriedly enter into reciprocal trade agreements in order that our apparent differences might be settled as far as possible.

I thanked him for his very valuable suggestion, bearing in mind all the while the views of the Department concerning our trade treaty status.

At the time of the present writing the S.A.R. de Telefoane, (the Telephone Company of Rumania,) has appealed to the Legation for immediate assistance in connection with the transfer and change from the old system to the new automatic system, which automatically under their franchise and trade operation agreement grants to the Telephone Company an increase in telephone rates. Already I have called upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Titulescu, and have interceded for the Telephone Company. A serious crisis has arisen. The press of Rumania is denouncing the American telephone company and Americans in a very unfavorable way. The matter is in suspension now, and will be the subject of a special despatch to the Department when enough accurate information is obtained, or a correct report of the matter, to be presented.

In obedience to the present instruction which I now have in hand, conferences and engagements with the proper Rumanian authorities have been asked for and our request is expected to be granted immediately. Further reports concerning these instructions will follow.

Respectfully yours,

Alvin M. Owsley