Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The Chargé d’Affaires of Uruguay called to discuss the question of a reciprocity commercial treaty between our two countries. I stated to him that I had fully explained to his President Terra, to the head of the Uruguayan Foreign Office and their Delegation to the Montevideo Conference, just what the situation was, and I repeated it to him, which, in brief, was that in the first place I was as anxious as any person to negotiate reciprocity treaties which would develop mutually profitable trade to the fullest extent. I then called attention at length to the wild extremes to which all countries had drifted since the War in the direction of economic nationalism and isolation; that this policy of extremism had dried up world trade; that it would require some time to educate public sentiment back in the same direction; and that, therefore, each country must recognize the difficulties of the others and realize that a country like the United States could only get back to economic sanity by degrees, so far as liberal commercial policy to fully restore international trade was concerned—that as it returned to the more liberal plan of international economic cooperation, it could correspondingly enter upon reciprocity commercial treaties. I said I was opposed to embargoes or absolute prohibitions with respect to any and all commodities; and I earnestly hoped that at the earliest date the United States could enter into reciprocity treaties with countries like Uruguay which would embrace at least a few minor commodities at the beginning with the idea that by degrees in the future as public sentiment permitted the number could be increased. I said I felt that to the extent that any two countries could agree upon a mutually profitable exchange of commodities, it was a most important objective to have in mind.

I told the Chargé that of course the United States would not expect to sell any substantial quantities of meat or wheat to Uruguay or to the Argentine or any similar country that produced these for export, nor, on the other hand, should those two countries expect to sell any substantial amount to the United States which likewise produced them for export. I expressed the hope that after Congress acted on such application as might be made for power for the Executive to negotiate reciprocal commercial treaties based on mutual tariff concessions without the same having to be ratified by the Senate, we would be in a position to take up with all countries, as rapidly as possible, the negotiation of reciprocity treaties that would contemplate such commodities as might be deemed feasible in the light of public sentiment and which might be increased in number from year to year as sentiment [Page 644] and general conditions permitted or made feasible. I made no definite commitments in any way except to outline and analyze the situation as above.

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