The Under Secretary of State ( Welles ) to the Brazilian Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Aranha )1

My Dear Dr. Aranha: You will recall that in a conversation with you on February 16, the Secretary of Agriculture2 mentioned that this Government was considering inviting other governments to participate in a cotton conference. In this regard, inquiries are now being addressed by this Government to the governments of the principal cotton-producing countries of the world to ascertain whether they would be disposed to accept an invitation to send a qualified representative, or qualified representatives, to Washington to join with representatives of the other principal cotton exporting countries to discuss the possibility of international regulation of the supply and marketing of cotton.

It would be appreciated, accordingly, if an indication could be obtained from your Government as to whether it would be disposed to accept such an invitation. If favorable replies are received from your Government and from the other governments addressed, it is the intention of this Government to issue invitations for a meeting in Washington at as early a date as practicable, preferably in April.

As mentioned by the Secretary of Agriculture in his conversation with you, the existence of excessively large world supplies of cotton in relation to world consumption suggests the desirability of exploring the feasibility of cooperation by the leading cotton exporting countries with respect to international regulation of this trade. The purpose of the proposed meeting, however, would be entirely exploratory and participation in these discussions would in no sense commit governments to any definite scheme or even to the principle of international regulation of the cotton trade. This Government for its part would [Page 21] consider it desirable to have an exchange of opinion of experts in this field before further consideration is given to any initiative directed toward holding an international conference, including both exporting and importing countries, for the purpose of drafting an international agreement on cotton.

As of probable interest to you in the foregoing connection, I am enclosing a brief memorandum concerning the present world cotton situation.3

Sincerely yours,

Sumner Welles

[Instructions in the sense of the Under Secretary’s letter to Dr. Aranha, supra, were sent to the Embassy in Brazil (No. 294) on February 27, and to the Embassies in Argentina (No. 884), France (No. 1339) for the French cotton exporting colonies, Mexico (No. 2388), Peru (No. 233), the United Kingdom (No. 530) and to the Legation in Egypt (No. 369) on February 28.

Favorable responses were received from each Government addressed except the Argentine (despatch No. 2543, May 5, from the Chargé in Argentina): Telegrams No. 172, May 24, 2 p.m., from the Ambassador in Brazil, No. 40, April 20, 10 a.m., from the Minister in Egypt, No. 739, April 14, 7 p.m., from the Ambassador in France, No. 120, April 25, 11 a.m., from the Chargé in Mexico, No. 26, March 28, noon, from the Ambassador in Peru, and No. 713, May 19, 6 p.m., from the Ambassador in the United Kingdom; none printed.

Telegrams instructing the respective American diplomatic missions to extend invitations on behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture to the countries to which they were accredited to be represented at a meeting in Washington, September 5, “for the purpose of discussing the possibility of working out a world cotton agreement”, were sent on May 29, 7 p.m., to the Embassy in Argentina (No. 92) “in view of the fact that the other cotton-producing countries have signified their willingness to take part”, to the Embassies in Brazil (No. 99), France (No. 384), Mexico (No. 110), Peru (No. 36), the Soviet Union (No. 55), the United Kingdom (No. 397) and to the Legation in Egypt (No. 32). The British Government was requested to transmit the invitation to the Government of India and the Sudan Government; the Egyptian Government was likewise requested to transmit the invitation to the Sudan Government.

Similar invitations were later extended to certain other cotton producing countries through the respective American diplomatic missions; viz., Belgium for the Belgian Congo, August 5, 3 p.m. (telegram No. 48), Iran (No. 34), Iraq (No. 22) and Turkey (No. 34), [Page 22] August 9, 8 p.m. None of these four countries was able to be represented at the meeting.

The Argentine Government declined the invitation, “by reason of the small proportion which the Argentine production of cotton represents in the world total” (despatch No. 40, July 11, from the Ambassador in Argentina). Acceptances were transmitted by telegram from the other invited countries through the respective American diplomatic missions as follows: Brazil (telegram No. 235, August 2, 1 p.m.), Egypt (No. 88, August 16, 11 a.m.), France (Nos. 1286, July 11, 6 p.m. and 1552, August 23, 5 p.m.), Peru (No. 46, June 17, 10 a.m.), Soviet Union (No. 374, July 8, 11 a.m.) and the United Kingdom (No. 1119, August 4, 5 p.m.), none printed.]

  1. Addressed to the Brazilian Foreign Minister at the Brazilian Embassy. Dr. Aranha was in the United States on an official visit, February 9–March 10; see vol. v , under Brazil, section entitled “Arrangements for a General Program of Economic Cooperation Between the United States and Brazil”.
  2. Henry A. Wallace.
  3. Not printed.