The Minister in Colombia (Dawson) to the Secretary of State

No. 164

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s telegram No. 46 of July 6, 4 p.m., 1935, concerning the disadvantages under which American exporters labor as a result of restrictive exchange agreements, with particular reference to that between Colombia and [Page 445] Germany, and stating that it would like to have me bring on appropriate occasions to the attention of the Colombian authorities the potentially injurious effects of these practices and their bearing on the American policy of liberal trade.

I desired to take advantage of the first opportunity to discuss the matter with Dr. Olaya Herrera, but, since his return to the Foreign Office on July 11, he has been exceedingly busy and has not held the usual weekly diplomatic receptions. However, in a conversation at a social gathering last week, he informed me that he would arrange to see me within a few days and on July 29 the Chief of Protocol telephoned that the Minister would be pleased to receive me yesterday afternoon.

I prefaced my remarks to Dr. Olaya Herrera by stating that I had for some time desired to discuss with him in an entirely informal and friendly manner a situation which was causing concern. I then proceeded to outline briefly the practical effects on American trade of the competitive advantages accruing to German exporters under present conditions. In this connection, I told him of the recent receipt from an American firm in Medellin (my despatch No. 148 of July 2520) of a letter relating substantial setbacks suffered in different lines. I reminded the Minister of our Government’s policy of liberal trade and its attitude towards exchange agreements and other practices which tend to restrict commerce. I told him that, as was only natural, American exporters who are losing business view with resentment these practices from which their Government abstains and which constitute a potential danger.

The Minister followed my remarks with his usual sympathetic attention. He stated that trade relations with Germany had caused the Government no little trouble and that the Germans themselves did not seem satisfied. He said that he was not informed in great detail as to present conditions but that he would be glad to discuss the situation with the appropriate officials with particular reference to the disadvantages resulting for American exporters. He intimated that he would inform me in due course of the result of his conversations.

Before taking leave, I repeated to Dr. Olaya Herrera that I was making no official representations but had merely sought to discuss informally with him a situation which was causing resentment in American commercial circles. I added in this connection that American business men do not ask preferential treatment but only a fair chance to compete on a basis of equality.

Respectfully yours,

William Dawson
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