Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The Belgian Ambassador2 called and presented M. Forthomme, who is the head of the Belgian Trade Commission to this country, which just arrived here. The Trade Commissioner was very cordial and even profuse in his greetings and comment on the benefits of a trade agreement and of the initiative on the part of this government in favor of more liberal commercial policy.

I replied that we very deeply felt that anything like a normal and satisfactory volume of international finance and trade could not be restored without the adoption of a broader commercial policy on the part of at least the important trading nations; that we had, therefore, presented a broad program which would be our ultimate objective to this end, as well as that of other countries who might be induced to get behind the same; that we proposed to keep it constantly alive even though we might be obliged to make exceptions to it to a limited extent while dealing with abnormal panic conditions; that therefore we could only go forward as rapidly as public sentiment at home would permit, and since no one country could restore international trade, our progress would also be determined by the disposition of other important countries to halt their present course of economic isolation and move in the opposite direction simultaneously with us. I further stated that these proposed bilateral trade agreements were only a step in this general direction; that even as to them we might find it necessary to embrace a very limited number of commodities in an original agreement, with the idea six or twelve months later, as public sentiment or other necessary conditions became favorable, that we might enter into a supplemental agreement adding still further commodities.

[Page 103]

The Belgian Trade Commissioner indicated that he understood these conditions and considerations and could appreciate the viewpoint I expressed.

Nothing was said about any given commodity or about the exact program of the conversations ahead, except I stated that we would cooperate in every possible way to facilitate the conversations and to make the visit of himself and his associates enjoyable as possible generally.

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. Count Robert van der Straten-Ponthoz.