600.0031 World Program/26

The Minister in Egypt ( Fish ) to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Secretary: I have been carefully considering since its receipt your instruction No. 155 of March 11th, 1936,3 setting forth [Page 10] in such an illuminating and far-sighted manner the principles fundamental to the normal restoration of the international finance and commerce of the world.

I did not immediately make known your views to the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs because I had some doubt whether, in view of the particular situation obtaining locally, it would not be wiser to defer their presentation to the Egyptian authorities at this particular time.

In consequence of the death of the King, the elections and the imminence of a change of cabinet when your instruction was received, I thought in any case that it would be a better plan to defer the presentation of the general purposes of our Government as outlined in your memorandum until a new cabinet was formed. The more I have considered this, however, now that a new cabinet is in office with prospects of a long tenure, the more persuaded I am that I should communicate with you and present my point of view before proceeding further in the matter with the Egyptian Government.

As you are aware the economic policies pursued by Egypt are to a certain extent influenced by Great Britain and this has been particularly evidenced in the large number of measures which have been adopted by the Egyptian Government on the basis of suggestions made by interested British authorities to the Egyptian Economic Mission which visited Great Britain in 1935. By reason of Great Britain’s special position in Egypt this country is unable to pursue a wholly independent international economic policy.

Moreover, from my conversations with you when on leave in 1934 and in 1935 and from my conversations and communications with the Near East Division I have gathered that the Department is not disposed to encourage Egypt at this time in the conclusion of a trade agreement with the United States. I understand that this attitude is taken for the reason that there are no comparable advantages which Egypt would be able to offer us in return for the reduction of the duty on long staple cotton which forms the chief item of Egyptian exports to the United States and is, as you know, the principal source of Egyptian wealth.

The copy of a memorandum, forwarded with despatch No. 147 under date of December 27, 1935,4 setting forth a conversation held on December 12th, 1935, between the Egyptian Minister and the Assistant Chief of the Division of Trade Agreements5 regarding the [Page 11] negotiation of a trade agreement between the United States and Egypt, was interpreted by me to confirm the views hereinabove expressed.

Inasmuch, therefore, as Egypt does not possess at the present time the possibility of initiating an independent international economic policy and since my discussion of the principles underlying your program for world recovery would, I fear, only serve to provoke the Egyptian Government into raising actively the question of the conclusion of a trade agreement with the United States, it seemed wise to me to defer the presentation of the statement proposed in your instruction of March 11, 1936, until I might communicate with you and learn your views in the light of this statement of the special situation obtaining in Cairo. Further, it did not appear to me that the short delay thus entailed could be harmful.

I might add that Egypt has not instituted any quota or clearing arrangements with other countries, imposes no restrictions on the export of exchange and I do not anticipate that in the present healthy state of Egyptian foreign trade and of Egyptian finances that resort will be had to such practices to the detriment of our trade.

Should you, notwithstanding the foregoing considerations, desire me to comply with your instruction I shall be pleased to proceed promptly to do so upon hearing from you to that effect.

Respectfully yours,

Bert Fish
  1. See instruction No. 1231, March 11, 1936, to the Ambassador in France, and bracketed note immediately following, vol. i, p. 486.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Henry L. Deimel, Jr.