Memorandum by Mr. Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., of the Division of European Affairs

The Norwegian Minister2 called on Mr. Sayre3 this afternoon. Mr. Cumming was present during the conversation.

Mr. Morgenstierne said that he had now received from his government an indication of the nature of the agricultural concessions Norway would consider granting us should it be found possible to proceed with the negotiation of a trade agreement. He added that he wished he had been informed of these concessions at the time of his conversation with Mr. Sayre on November 18, 1936.4

Mr. Sayre replied that he did not think our attitude would have been changed in any fundamental way if we had been informed earlier of Norway’s possible concessions to us; and that he was still of the opinion that it would not be well advised to make any public move at this time with regard to a trade agreement with Norway, but we should await the passage by Congress of the new Trade Agreement Act.5

Mr. Morgenstierne thought that it was now too late to conclude even a partial agreement before the end of the whaling season in May, and that his government would, therefore, prefer to wait until later in the year before taking any further steps. It could then re-examine the whole situation in the light of conditions obtaining at that time.

It was finally agreed by Mr. Sayre and Mr. Morgenstierne that it would be best for each government to mark time pending at least the passage of the new Act, and then at a suitable time subsequent the question could be reopened and a decision reached according to the circumstances.

Mr. Sayre added that negotiations, if eventually decided upon, might be facilitated if in the meantime the Norwegian Government continued exploratory studies on their desiderata.

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In reply to a further inquiry from Mr. Morgenstierne, Mr. Sayre said that he was doubtful of the chances of success of an attempt to remove the whale oil tax by legislation, but that the State Department would follow any legislation introduced with the same interest as it had in the past.

  1. Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstierne.
  2. Francis B. Sayre, Assistant Secretary of State.
  3. Memorandum of conversation not printed.
  4. Trade Agreements Act of June 12, 1934, as extended by Joint Resolution of Congress, March 1, 1937; 50 Stat. 24.