The Chargé in the Netherlands (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

No. 139

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that Mr. Bliss, the Acting Commercial Attaché, called this morning on Dr. van Essen, of [Page 580] the Department of Economic Affairs, to discuss with him a matter pertaining to an import difficulty. Dr. van Essen deals principally with American Affairs in the Division of Economic Policy of the Ministry. There are no geographic divisions but it is he who, serving under Dr. Lamping, actually has mostly to do with American matters and the prospective trade agreement with the United States. He took advantage of Mr. Bliss’ presence to discuss the coming negotiations.

Apparently Mr. Kleijn Molekamp, the Commercial Attaché of the Netherlands Legation in Washington, had a conversation recently with Mr. Turkel of the Treaty Division of the Department of State. The report subsequently made of this conversation has reached the Department of Economic Affairs and has brought about a feeling of pessimism. The reason for this feeling is that it has so far been impossible for them to find anything substantial to offer us in return for the really important concessions hinted at by Mr. Turkel and which they hope to obtain.

Dr. van Essen admits that the Dutch list of desiderata will be very long indeed and he was glad to hear that we were giving consideration to Sumatra tobacco, palm oil and certain other colonial products. He did not think that the idea mentioned by Mr. Turkel of freelisting coffee was of any importance from the Dutch point of view. What was desired by the Dutch commercial elements was nothing less than a fifty per cent all around reduction in the American tariff on Dutch goods. He added that he knew this was an impossibility and that the delegates in Washington would therefore not have it for an objective. His pessimism, however, was based on a growing belief that it would be next to impossible for the Netherlands to yield any real advantage to the United States in return for our concessions. Also on the fact that the American desire for a “most-favored-nation” agreement could not be realized.

While I believe there was a certain sincerity in what Dr. van Essen had to say, it was obvious that his purpose was to have word transmitted to Washington which would prepare the Department for what may be expected from the Dutch delegation. I therefore venture to suggest that the Department continue, through informal conversations, exchanging information during the months preceding the negotiations, and that by this method an indication be given that we will expect at least one important concession. Such a concession would involve great difficulties and readjustments here but is not impossible.

There are many Dutch, for instance, who wish the Government to abandon its flour policy and there is a substantial demand in Holland for certain kinds of restricted American steel products. The adjustment of the restriction difficulties which the Legation has been working with, excepting those on cattle cake and nitrates, will cost the [Page 581] Netherlands Government next to nothing. I have no doubt that this will be the extent of their first offer. The British and Czechs were unable to accomplish anything with them an account of their failure to offer anything worthwhile. I should add that in their commercial negotiations during the past year the Dutch have been blind to considerations of a general nature such as those which inspire the Secretary of State and I have a feeling that unless they are given a timely warning they will expect us to do very much for the sake of world trade and very little for our own.

Respectfully yours,

Warden McK. Wilson