611.5731/143: Telegram

The Minister in Norway (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

50. Morgenstierne, Norwegian Minister to Washington, has asked me on behalf of this Government to ascertain as soon as possible whether the American Government would agree to consider a Norwegian move to negotiate a preliminary trade agreement respecting a limited number of items prior to negotiating a broader agreement later. He prefaced his inquiry by stating frankly that Norway’s principal consideration inducing desire for trade agreement with us is hope of regaining American market for whale oil. Accordingly, in order to open an American market to Norwegian whale oil, Morgenstierne indicated that his Government might be prepared to accord improved import facilities to a limited number of American products. Furthermore, since whaling expeditions start December 1st the time element from the Norwegian Government point of view constitutes an important factor. Hence the Norwegian Government desire to reduce to a minimum the period required for public hearings in Washington through limiting this suggested preliminary agreement to as few items as possible. It was suggested, for example, that Norway might grant a concession on American automobiles to compensate us for corresponding concession on whale oil.

Compare in the above connection similar Norwegian point of view conveyed to Department by Minister Philip’s despatch No. 509, August 11, 1934.6 Our preliminary survey here indicates desirability of binding present tariff treatment on the following American imports into Norway: Raw cotton, naval stores, toilet soap, cellulose, lacquer, automobile tires, tobacco, office machines, motion picture films and [Page 400] electric refrigerators. The most important items to be recommended for duty reductions include: apples, pears, dried and canned productive packing house products, salmon, silk hosiery and motor vehicles. It is expected that all commodity digests should be completed and transmitted by September 15. I do not believe the Norwegians would be willing to make concessions on more than two or three items in return for any import facilities granted to their whale oil. I am also convinced that while rejection of Norwegian proposal for preliminary agreement would be disappointing to Norwegians it would not be a serious impediment to negotiation of general trade agreement. Please telegraph our Government’s decision on the above Norwegian proposal for communication to Morgenstierne.

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