867.50 Five Year Plan/13

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

Dear Mr. Secretary: I deem it my duty to bring to your personal attention the present situation in Turkey where there is now an opportunity for responsible American contracting firms to participate in the industrialization of the country, an opportunity which can be made use of practically only in the event that our own Government, through its new financial organs, is prepared to lend its assistance.

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German, Swiss, and other firms are actively bidding for Turkish business. They are prepared to give from three to ten years’ credit to the Government, and unless their American competitors can meet these terms they cannot hope to succeed. I am aware of the distrust with which foreign credit operations are now regarded in the United States, but is there not danger that our unhappy experiences in the recent past, largely due to our own heedlessness, may lead us into such extreme conservatism as to exclude us from promising fields of enterprise? That Turkey is such a field there can be no doubt. The amount of ordinary goods which we can sell to Turkey is limited, owing to the low purchasing power of the people, but the productive enterprises which have been planned by the Government offer a market for considerable amounts of capital goods, the use of which, in turn, will provide a permanent market for replacements and the like. As to the credit of Turkey, it can be said that if the record of the Sultanate was bad, the record of the Republic is good. I am not aware that in the ten years of the Government of Mustapha Kemal a single case of failure has been reported.

The contracts about to be let constitute direct Chargés upon the Government, as in existing circumstances only the Government is capable of carrying out the important works included in the program. Within proper limits I feel that our Government would be justified in adopting a policy of granting credits to enable American firms to secure Turkish business, and thus to share in uie upbuilding of the transportation system and the creation of the various manufacturing plants, for which plans have been prepared.

Mr. Goldthwaite Dorr,61 who has just completed an economic survey of Turkey for the Government, and who is therefore better qualified, perhaps, than anyone else to discuss this matter in detail, has now returned to the United States, and I understand that he intends to place himself at the disposition of yourself and Mr. Peek62 in order to acquaint you with the situation. I bespeak for him a careful hearing.

I know that you are personally greatly interested in the reestablishment of our foreign trade, and it is because of this interest, and because I feel that here is an opportunity to accomplish something tangible, that I venture somewhat urgently, without now insisting upon details, to bring the facts to your attention. We need to know and to know very soon, whether our new financial machinery will work in cases of this kind, and to what extent our business houses may obtain its support. At the present time, in so far as I have knowledge [Page 951] of the matter, the following concerns are giving some attention to the Turkish situation: The Foundation Company of New York, Ulen and Company, the J. G. White Engineering Corporation, and Colonel Frederick Pope of the American Cyanide & Chemical Corporation. Doubtless there are others of whom I have no knowledge.

I may add that I have direct information from members of the Turkish Government that they are not only willing, but especially desirous that American firms shall participate in the new Turkish business. They are prepared to listen to any reasonable proposition from the United States, but naturally feel that in the matter of financing we should be no less liberal than other countries. I have been so active in persuading them to turn to the United States that if we should finally fail to submit tenders of reasonably satisfactory nature, I fear that we should not only lose the business involved, but lose something of our prestige as well.

Sincerely yours,

Robert P. Skinner
  1. Associated with Dr. Edwin W. Kemmerer in completing a general economic survey of Turkey, which Gen. Walker D. Hines had begun but left unfinished on his death.
  2. George N. Peek, Special Adviser to the President on Foreign Trade.