The Chargé in Estonia (Leonard) to the Secretary of State

No. 142 (Diplomatic)

Sir: I have the honor to refer to Minister Lane’s despatch No. 481 of March 31, 1937 from Riga,16 acknowledging the receipt of the Department’s telegram No. 18 regarding negotiations for a trade agreement with Estonia. In this connection, reference is also made to Minister Lane’s despatch No. 128 of March 16, 1937 from Tallinn and to my despatch No. 132 of March 18, 1937.17

After receiving a copy of Minister Lane’s despatch No. 481 together with a copy of the Department’s telegram No. 18, I immediately made arrangements to see Minister Selter and Mr. Wirgo, when I conveyed orally the substance of paragraph No. 1 of the Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 18. I indicated to Mr. Wirgo and to Minister Selter that the Department was gratified to learn that Estonia was prepared to negotiate a trade agreement with the [Page 266] United States and that the tentative draft of the Treaty as well as a statement of the Estonian position would be awaited with interest.

I was informed that Mr. Mickwitz of the Treaty Division had begun on April 1, 1937, the drafting of a treaty, which would probably be ready within ten days or a fortnight, at which time it was hoped a statement could also be furnished of Estonia’s position relative to a treaty with the United States.

Relative to my inquiry concerning the alleged prohibition of the importation of Estonian shale oil into the United States, I was informed that Minister Selter would confer with certain shale oil interests and that I would be later informed on this point.

In making a brief call on Mr. Wirgo at noon today (Saturday, April 3), I was informed that the alleged classification of shale oil as “poisonous” by the American authorities, and hence refusal of entry into the United States, had proved to be incorrect. Mr. Wirgo informed me that it was due to a misunderstanding on the part of an agent who contemplated exporting Estonian shale oil to the United States. Mr. Wirgo stated that shale oil had not been exported directly from Estonia to the United States, but that it had been shipped largely to Germany, and also to Latvia, Finland, and the Scandinavian countries. I was also informed that the production of shale oil in Estonia was less than 100,000 metric tons during 1936, but that during 1937 it would probably be 125,000 tons and that the Estonian production of shale oil would be considerably increased if a bigger market could be found in the United States. Mr. Wirgo stated that it was his understanding that shale oil came under the United States Tariff classification of coal tar oil, and hence is free of duty into the United States. He further stated that it would interest the Estonian authorities to be assured that shale oil would remain on the free list, a feature they would like to have incorporated in the treaty with the United States.

The Department will be informed by cable as to the date when the Estonian draft is received at the Tallinn Legation and when it will be mailed to the Department.

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Respectfully yours,

Walter A. Leonard
  1. Not printed.
  2. Neither printed.