Memorandum by Mr. Donald R. Heath of the Division of Latin American Affairs

I lunched with Mr. Mata,6 who inquired whether a definite date had been announced for hearings for a trade agreement with Argentina. I told him that no date had as yet been set. He then asked how long it would take after the hearings began before a trade agreement could be negotiated. I told him there was no fixed period, but I had heard it said that the minimum time was probably around four months.

Mr. Mata went on to say that it was very important, both for Argentina and the United States, to conclude a trade agreement at this time. He said that next year the question of British Empire preferences would come up for revision and it was expected that the Dominions would ask for increasing preference for their meat products and it would then be necessary for Argentina to make a new agreement with Great Britain in order to preserve its best market for Argentine beef. He said that at that time influential public opinion in Argentina would be adverse to Argentina granting any important trade concessions to the United States because such concessions would inevitably be at the expense of British trade with Argentina and the meat and agricultural exporting interests in Argentina would then want to do everything to preserve British good will.

He then remarked on the bill before Congress to set up a protective program on domestic flax which he said would undoubtedly be at the expense of Argentine flax exports to the United States. He informed me that the Embassy was preparing a protest against this bill, and inquired whether the Department would forward the protest to Congress. I later informed him that any communication of that nature would be forwarded to the Chairman of the Congressional committee reporting on the bill.

Mr. Mata then discoursed further as to the necessity of a trade agreement, pointing out that, in return for concessions on flax, Argentina would make concessions insuring a great increase of such imports as American automobiles.

Donald R. Heath
  1. Commercial Attach of the Argentine Embassy.