The Ambassador in Turkey ( Skinner ) to the Secretary of State

No. 225

Sir: I have the honor to inquire whether, having regard to the fact that Turkey enjoys a favorable trade balance in the United States it might not serve our trading interests if we proposed to the Turkish Government the negotiation of a commercial treaty limited to the engagement that Turkish goods would be allowed to enter the United States for say two or three years without restriction as to quantity or [Page 943] category, subject only to the payment of ordinary tariff duties and such hygienic regulations as might prevail, Turkey to guarantee to us identical privileges in this country.

As Turkey is always fearful lest we impose quota restrictions or insist upon a “clearing house” agreement, there would seem to be the possibility that a proposal of the sort suggested would prove acceptable.

If the arrangement with Turkey worked well, we could propose similar terms to other quota-burdened countries enjoying favorable trade balances in the United States. Finally, after having made a start on this plan in countries having favorable trade balances in the United States, we might possibly make the same offer to countries where the trade balance was in our favor.

There is no doubt that there is general dissatisfaction throughout the world with confusing systems of “contingents”, “quotas”, “clearing houses”, and the like which choke up channels of trade and made [make] the return to old-fashioned methods of international trading most difficult. Possibly a definite move in the direction of return to the freer methods of other times might have contagious effect. At all events, treaties such as I have outlined could do no possible harm, and if proposed, at least would cause general discussion.

At the present time we are the only important country in the world where foreign trade is untrammeled except for tariffs and hygienic measures, and any positive step which we might take for the purpose of extending the system would arouse widespread interest and, as I hope, a good deal of support. At all events we cannot go on indefinitely, hedged in with limitations in foreign countries everywhere (even where we sell less than we buy) while our own gates swing inward for any quantity of foreign goods that people are disposed to send to us.

Respectfully yours,

Robert P. Skinner