Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Sayre)

Mr. Morgenstierne came in to pay his respects and, in the course of a friendly conversation, brought up the subject of a possible Norwegian-American trade agreement. During the conversation he said that, apart from whale oil, there were very few commodities as to which Norway would like to improve the commercial treatment accorded it by the United States. He felt, therefore, that if a trade agreement were negotiated between the two countries it should cover only a limited number of and comparatively few commodities. I said to Mr. Morgenstierne, as I had told him on several occasions previously, that in our experience a limited trade agreement seemed inadvisable. A limited trade agreement would cost, to all practical intent, as much time, effort and political burden as a comprehensive and thoroughgoing trade agreement. I therefore expressed it, as my own personal opinion, that if a trade agreement between the two countries should be entered into it should be of a comprehensive nature, embracing all those matters as to which adjustment was sought and on which agreement could be reached. I added, however, that I expressed this as my personal opinion and that, before venturing an official opinion, I would want to have further study made of the present trade relationships between our two countries.

I then went on to speak of Mr. Koht’s7 approaching visit to Washington. I asked Mr. Morgenstierne whether he would want to discuss trade agreement matters and said that, if he did, in order not to waste his time, we ought to be prepared and ought to be having a study made of Norwegian-American trade before his arrival. Mr. Morgenstierne said that he did not know whether Mr. Koht would desire to discuss these matters or not. I suggested that Mr. Morgenstierne might want to make inquiry so that if Mr. Koht should desire to enter into general discussions as to whether or not there is ground for a trade agreement between the two countries we could be fully prepared. Upon Mr. Morgenstierne’s inquiry, I said that we were not urging conversations but merely wanted to be prepared in case Mr. Koht should desire to discuss these matters. Mr. Morgenstierne promised to find out and let me know.

F[rancis] B. S[ayre]
  1. Halvdan Koht, Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs.