Memorandum by the Chargé in Estonia (Carlson) of a Conversation With the Director of the Foreign Trade Department of the Estonian Foreign Office (Wirgo)6

On April 22, 1936, the American Chargé d’Affaires a. i. at Tallinn was asked to come to the Foreign Office at Tallinn and to call on Mr. Ed. Wirgo, the Director of the Foreign Trade Department of the Estonian Foreign Office. At the Foreign Office the Chargé d’Affaires was handed by Mr. Wirgo, a note dated April 22, 1936,7 in reply to a note addressed by the American Legation at Tallinn to the Foreign Office at Tallinn, on April 15, 1936,5 in which the question of the prolongation of the existing treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights between the United States and Estonia for one year was broached.

[Page 68]

In handing the foregoing note to the Chargé d’Affaires, Mr. Wirgo said that he had a few observations to make concerning the foreign trade relations between the United States and Estonia and about the necessity of trying to bring the commodity exchanges between the two countries into a state of balance at as early a date as possible. Mr. Wirgo’s remarks relative to the foregoing matters were approximately as follows.

In the course of the past two or three years Estonia had entered into foreign trade and clearing agreements with a number of countries under which it was bound to direct its import trade to these countries as long as Estonia’s trade balances with the latter continued to be active. Under this heading particular reference might be made to Great Britain and to Germany, both of which were important purchasers of Estonian export commodities.

Estonia was, therefore, obliged to give first consideration to foreign exchange demands made upon it by importers of products from the above-mentioned countries. A situation might, thus, arise under which foreign exchange would not be available for purchases of commodities of American origin. Should, for example, a poor harvest in 1936 affect Estonia’s economic situation disadvantageously, the Estonian authorities might be constrained to adopt the same procedure in respect to import licenses and foreign exchange for imports from the United States as was now being applied against imports from all other countries with which Estonia had passive foreign trade balance. Up to the present time, goods of American origin had been admitted into Estonia despite the fact that the Estonian-U. S. A. trade balance was heavily against Estonia.

It was Mr. Wirgo’s hope that the conclusion of a modified commercial treaty with the U. S. A. might be expedited, and that the new treaty might possibly enter in effect even prior to May 22, 1937, so that a means might thereby be provided for the removal of Estonia’s present unfavorable trade balance with the U. S. A. through the increase in exportations of Estonian goods to the markets in the U. S. A.

  1. Transmitted to the Department by the Chargé in Estonia in his despatch No. 620 (Diplomatic), April 23; received May 7.
  2. See telegram No. 4, April 22, from the Chargé in Estonia, supra.
  3. Not printed.