611.4131/263: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Bingham) to the Secretary of State

193. At the luncheon referred to in the last paragraph of my 187, April 2, 2 p.m., the permanent official of the Board of Trade, speaking unofficially and solely from his own angle, said that the Cabinet Ministers concerned were agreed in principle as to the desirability of concluding an Anglo-American trade agreement. In fact the will to do so had never been stronger but thus far each Cabinet officer had proved difficult in permitting concessions which affected his own department. Therefore the discussions which begin next week between the Cabinet Ministers concerned and their technical advisers may be protracted.

However in the opinion of my informant the “insuperable” items would prove to be (1) rice because it is the only concession which Great Britain offers to the new Government of Burma, (2) dried prunes and apricots since any concession on these would affect the war veterans industry in Australia, (3) canned fruits in syrup on which it is doubtful whether much if any more could be done than bind the present rate. In my informant’s opinion agreement could probably be reached as regards the other edible articles mentioned in the first paragraph of Department’s 120, April 2, 8 p.m.37 special favorable emphasis being given to fresh apples and pears, honey and preserves without sugar; likewise something could be done for Douglas fir doors and it was presumed that concessions in return for the more expensive type of door exported from England would be forthcoming and it was emphasized that it would be easier to do something for southern pine rather than Douglas fir and that pork products particularly hams would also be negotiable items.

In conclusion the following general opinion was set forth: That while Great Britain was making a greater attempt to meet the United States than it had ever done in the case of any other foreign country with whom it had concluded a trade agreement, nevertheless, it was most unlikely that “despite all the good will in the world” it could meet in toto the suggestions of the United States; that it was really not politically possible to reverse at this time the forces which culminated in the Ottawa Agreements and which had as their fundamental aim that an increasing share of the United Kingdom market should go to Empire producers.

  1. Not printed.