800.6176/110: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State

2008. Department’s 899, September 13, 1 p.m. The questions raised in the Department’s telegram under reference were immediately discussed with the appropriate French authorities by an Embassy representative. The pertinent French official today reiterates that the export prohibition on rubber shipments from Indochina is obviously due to the military necessity of preserving all available stocks under the existing emergency (see Embassy’s telegram 1935, September 13, 1 p.m.38). He stated that as the total annual production of rubber in Indochina is only 60,000 to 70,000 tons and which is approximately the normal needs in France it will be understood that precautionary measures are required by the military authorities to assure all available supply for France from Indochina. The French official stated that he is at a loss to understand that 20,000 tons of rubber can be due for delivery to the United States from Indochina for the month of October only as the total annual imports into the United States from Indochina have in recent years merely approximated or been less than the amount cited for delivery for the month of October and it is his belief that this amount may represent approximately the total deliveries called for from September through March or April.

The French official states that naturally every consideration will be given to avoid as far as is possible under the present emergency possible losses to American importers having bona fide contracts but that naturally the French defense needs must have priority under the colonial export prohibition restrictions over all other operations.

The French Government officials following consultations with the Rubber Control Board, the Ministry of War and the Ministry of Colonies, requests that [in view of] the situation outlined above the Department endeavor to ascertain what quantity of rubber from Indochina has been contracted for shipment since this export prohibition was imposed by American importers directly with Indochinese suppliers and not through British intermediaries.

Apparently this question is related to the policy of pool raw material resources by the British and French Control Board stationed in [Page 878] London and if these contracts were made through British intermediaries the latter’s contracts have already been or may be requisitioned by this board.

The French Government representatives state that if upon investigation it is found that bona fide firm contracts have been made directly by American importers and that the tonnage represented by such contracts is not large consideration might be given to a request from the American Government for a derogation from the export prohibition thereon. The French official gave as his personal opinion that if the French Government found it possible to release any of this rubber the tonnage involved would not exceed a maximum of 4,000 or 5,000 tons.

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