841.01 Imperial Conference (1937)/41: Telegram

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

335. I understand from Norman Robertson in strict confidence that he and Pearson49 representing the Canadians discussed yesterday with representatives of the seven interested British departments the recent Anglo-American trade agreement interchanges. (Apparently King, Dunning and the other delegates are concentrating on matters of foreign relations and imperial defense). These interchanges will be taken up separately with each Dominion by the United Kingdom authorities.

Robertson did not give me his final conclusions of the meeting which I gather had lasted several hours but he did mention that it was not beyond the bounds of possibility that the fight might eventually have to be moved to Washington. He went on to emphasize the following:

that he had stressed that although political considerations should no doubt weigh with the Cabinets, nevertheless, we should anticipate that adjustments incident to the conclusion of an Anglo-American agreement would have to stand on their economic not their political merits;
that he had taken the line that any such concessions on the part of Canada as the recent Anglo-American interchanges seemed to contemplate would in turn necessitate
that they should form a part of a “comprehensive pattern” and
that Canada should receive such compensation in corresponding concessions as would meet with the approval of the Canadian electorate. [Page 35] As regards (a) Robertson was very vague himself but his purpose seemed to be to obtain guarantees from the British regarding a relaxation of their trade restrictive practices; as regards (b) Robertson seemed to envisage concessions on the part of the United States as well as Great Britain and he again emphasized the difficulties of Canada’s position in much the same way as reported in my 304, May 24, 5 p.m.
that the British argument had been based on the somewhat “simple attitude” that the Dominions would obtain virtually compensatory benefits from the indirect results which must flow from the conclusion of such a trade agreement at the present time.

  1. Lester Bowles Pearson, First Secretary, London office of the High Commissioner for Canada.