The Minister in Yugoslavia (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

No. 581

Sir: I have the honor to report that, since my return from leave, I have had several conversations with Mr. Fotitch, the Yugoslav Minister at Washington, who is working energetically to induce his Government to abandon or at least modify the present system of import permits, which he believes is an unwise measure and harmful to Yugoslavia itself. He has discussed this question with the Prime Minister, with Mr. Pilja, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, especially charged with commercial matters at the Foreign Office, and especially with the Minister of Commerce.7 He even told the latter that the opinion in America is increasing that the measures to reduce American imports were discriminatory and that if this opinion gained ground, retaliatory measures against Yugoslavia might be adopted by the American Government. He also pointed out to the Minister how unwise, shortsighted and even dangerous it was, in his opinion, to lose by this system long established contacts on the American market, which Yugoslavia might wish later, and probably too late, to recover. And finally, he pointed out to the Minister the danger in his opinion, of Yugoslavia becoming practically the commercial vassal of Germany, which might later fail it and leave Yugoslavia practically without foreign markets. Mr. Fotitch said that he had found the officials with whom he spoke sympathetic and was assured that the situation would receive further examination. Confidentially he told me that he had received the impression that while his Government would not at this time abandon the present system in principle, it might possibly relax its present strictness and that the applications for American imports would be studied in each individual case and the system applied in a more liberal spirit. He said that the Minister of Commerce had asked him to tell me that he would like to discuss the situation with me and I shall not fail to call upon him as soon as he returns to Belgrade.

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Respectfully yours,

Charles S. Wilson
  1. Dr. Vrbanich.