Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray)

During a call from the Italian Ambassador72 on another matter on October 30, I asked him whether he had any information regarding [Page 318]the policy of his Government with respect to foreign trade with Ethiopia. I mentioned that according to our information it had become practically impossible for any non-Italians to do any business with or in Ethiopia. I made reference in this connection to the Italian statement of policy read at the League Assembly on June 30, 1936, in which the Italian Government undertook to accord “fair treatment” to foreign trade with Ethiopia.

In reply the Ambassador stated that while he was not fully informed on this subject, he did know that the Italian authorities in Ethiopia had pointed to the fact that there are as yet no clearly defined frontiers between Ethiopia proper and the adjoining Italian colonies and that for the time being it is impossible to distinguish between trade with those colonies and Ethiopia proper. In other words, I gathered from the Ambassador’s remarks that, for the time being at least, Ethiopia has been assimilated to the adjoining Italian colonies as far as trade is concerned. The chances, therefore, of any resumption of foreign trade with Ethiopia along the lines existing before the Italian conquest are very slim in the absence of steps by the Italian Government to give effect to the promises made to the League Assembly on June 30, 1936.

The Ambassador remarked, with a smile, that he was quite familiar with the above-mentioned promises to the Assembly since he himself drafted them and he had purposely used the phrase “fair treatment” in view of the uncertainty of the situation.

Wallace Murray
  1. Fulvio Suvich.