The Ambassador in Argentina (Weddell) to the Secretary of State

No. 1130

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that in the course of the past few months I have had several talks with Dr. Ortiz, the Argentine Minister of Finance, urging equality of treatment in the matter of the granting of official exchange to cover imports of American merchandise into Argentina.

I spoke to the Minister for Foreign Affairs some time ago of my desire to discuss financial matters directly with the Minister of Finance and received the assurance that the suggested course of action was entirely agreeable.

I attach herewith a memorandum of a conversation31 held yesterday with Dr. Ortiz, the Minister of Finance.

As will be observed, the Minister promises a more liberal treatment with regard to exchange covering imports of American goods and further [Page 201] indicates that the present year may possibly see the abolition of the twenty per cent, surcharge on goods entering Argentina for which no previous import permits had been obtained, and even of the entire exchange control system.

In this conversation, I pointed out that my attitude and efforts were based on the grounds of equality of treatment and the necessity and advantage to Argentina and to general trade of the removal of artificial exchange barriers and other restrictions on commerce; certainly not on the basis of the possibly transitory “unfavorable balance” with this country manifested in the past year.

In the course of the conversation, I also brought to the Minister’s attention two specific cases where representatives of American firms are in danger of losing Argentine Government orders for which they were the lowest bidders because of the fact that their competitors were in a position to obtain exchange at the official rate instead of having to pay the free market rate plus the surcharge. These cases the Minister promised to investigate. The Trade Commissioner in Charge, Mr. Clark, is also bringing these cases to the attention of Dr. Luro, head of the Exchange Control Commission.

It now remains to be seen just how liberal is the exchange treatment which the Minister of Finance declares will be accorded to importers of American merchandise. The Department will be kept fully informed of any developments.

Respectfully yours,

Alexander W. Weddell
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