Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The British Chargé d’Affaires came in with Premier Stevens, of New South Wales, who desired to make a courtesy call on his way back home from Europe. The conversation related entirely to international trade and finance. The Premier was not here, however, on any official mission in that or in any other connection, and hence the conversation was entirely individual and informal. He began by stating that most of Europe is disposed at present to move steadily and straight in the direction of autarchy, despite the wisdom of the economic program which the United States and other countries are proposing and urging. I replied that evidently Europe is still bent on economic suicide, together with the political difficulties bred by cutthroat economic bilateralism; that their evident purpose is to drive the world straight towards the most uneconomic condition it has experienced during the past two hundred years; that this will mean lower living standards, increasing unemployment of millions, economic destitution, and consequent political and military uprisings followed by military dictatorships in steadily increasing numbers; that it surpasses the imagination that Western civilization, with eyes open, is disposed to move straight in this direction; and the fact that the English-speaking people, especially, would do so is very surprising to me.

I then set forth the essential phases and the objectives of our trade agreements program, and added that statesmen in every capital now agree that it is sound and that it is the only long-time planning at all worthwhile. I expressed my deep disappointment that thus far the important trading nations are floating along with no objective except the narrow bilateral trading method, based solely on discriminations and increasingly on barter transactions, while they are neglecting or refusing to give utterance to any kind of long-time or permanent economic policies and objectives; that the United States while less interested in dollars and cents than any of the important trading nations is thus far fighting their commercial battles for them [Page 767] without virtually any assistance; that I am disappointed that our British friends are not more actively in support and furnishing their powerful moral influence. I then added that I was amazed at our Australian friends, whose commercial battles this country is likewise fighting in that we seek to lower excessive trade barriers everywhere so that vastly increased purchasing power can be developed—and the Australians, for example, are thereby enabled to find markets everywhere for their wool and meats and dairy products and other foodstuffs—on suddenly learning that they, for whom we have entertained the warmest friendship, are putting a knife to our throat and bending every effort to obstruct and prevent this great beneficial trade program of ours from being carried forward; that more surprising still, our Australian friends, who expect us to continue to be their friends presumably, deliberately place their effort to block and injure the progress of our trade program, upon the ground that we are not buying as much from them as they from us, while at the same time they have had the identical proposition up with Japan in precisely reverse form. I said that I was commenting in a spirit of friendliness, but that I was utterly unable to understand the theory of statesmen of surplus-producing countries who are strenuously striving not only to obstruct and break down our liberal trade agreements program with its great peace and business prosperity objectives, but as earnestly are striving to push and drive the world straight to an unprecedented, uneconomic condition, with the inevitable disastrous effects upon peoples, their welfare, and their civilization.

The Minister had little to say in return. He did undertake in a way to agree with me in principle.

C[ordell] H[ull]