The Minister in the Netherlands (Emmet) to the Secretary of State

No. 678

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 8, of March 4, 12 noon, and to explain that no information was sent to the Department by cable on the opening day of the conference of experts of the “Oslo States” because the only event of any importance was the speech made in English by Premier Colijn, which was carried over the radio and which, it was understood, was cabled in full to the American newspapers. A copy of the English text of this speech is enclosed herewith.

The Department’s No. 10, of March 5, 2 p.m., containing Secretary Hull’s message, arrived Saturday morning and was taken to Dr. Colijn at twelve o’clock. The Premier expressed his appreciation of the Secretary’s message and hastened to give assurances concerning that part of his speech in which he mentioned some adjustment of the most-favored-nation arrangements between the various States. What he said was reported almost verbatim in the confidential section of the Legation’s No. 16, of March 6, 5 p.m. In addition he sent cordial greetings to the Secretary and was very complimentary about his courageous and broad-minded trade policy.

In reply to a question concerning the progress of the Conference of experts which, as the Department was informed in the Legation’s No. 14, of March 5, 1 p.m.6 was held behind closed doors, he said that he did not expect anything to be done at this time but that he was favorably impressed by the good will of all the delegates and he did expect them to return with full powers in April, after consultation with their various governments. Real results, he said, could hardly be expected within a period of two years but things were going to be started now and each problem dealt with as it came up. He did not so greatly fear the unfavorable influence of Great Britain as he had at one time but at least one “Oslo State”, i. e., Denmark, would find things more difficult than some of the other States because of its almost complete dependence on British markets. In this connection he said that he had been much impressed by the memorandum written recently by Sir Frederick Leith-Ross7 on agricultural protectionism (published by the Economic Section of the League), wherein he had pointed out convincingly that [Page 830] the present protective quantitative regulations were destroying purchasing power in agricultural countries, which in turn led to unemployment in industrial countries. He therefore really expected that something might be done of mutual benefit to all but with a definite view to assuring better markets for the agricultural products of the Scandinavian States and Holland.

The conference of experts ended yesterday and the delegates have left The Hague. On Friday night there was a banquet given them by the Government at the Hotel des Indes; otherwise there was very little fuss and almost no information given to the press. It seemed to be well understood that the departmental experts were not authorized to speak for their governments but were merely exploring certain technical points. During the long hours of their conferences they actually studied in turn the trade restriction or “crisis” measures adopted by each of the States and drew up a report to be submitted to their respective governments concerning the desirability of eliminating certain of these measures. It is believed that this report, without underestimating the existing difficulties, suggests certain definite steps to be taken. Further conferences are to be held, the next in April, when possibly, if enough progress is made, each nation will be represented by official delegates. Progress is expected to be slow but, as Premier Colijn himself said: “When people who have been cutting each other’s throats for a good many years shake hands and sit around the table to discuss mutual problems, it cannot be said that something has not already been accomplished.”

According to the Algemeen Handelsblad of yesterday the experts agreed to recommend to their governments certain changes in the Oslo Convention. These changes are to be of a practical nature and will make it all the more necessary for representatives of the “Oslo States” to meet often in conference. This information came from an official source and it may therefore be assumed that a good beginning was made or at least that the meetings were harmonious.

Respectfully yours,

Grenville T. Emmet
  1. Not printed.
  2. Economic adviser to the British Government.