841.731/2302: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson)

86. Your 2691, December 21, 6 p.m. Department has informally contacted various private and Government agencies to ascertain commercial codes most usually used by American interests in international correspondence. It has received a communication from the International Communications Committee, an organization affiliated with the National Foreign Trade Council, Inc., whose members include most of the substantial users of international cable and radio. Following is quoted from its letter:

“Naturally, the Committee hesitates to state dogmatically what codes, in order, should next be admitted to use since the omission of any of them means a hardship to certain users and it is impossible to give a completely accurate ranking without having more information as to actual amount of traffic involved, taken in conjunction, perhaps, with the relative importance of the industry which may be affected. It would seem, however, that the Committee, on the basis of the information before it, is justified at this time in particularly urging admission of the following:

  • Acme Commodity & Phrase
  • Western Union
  • Universal Trade
  • Hartfield
  • Buenting Second
  • New Boe
  • Tanners’ Council

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It would seem that, where a particular code is in general use in any one industry, and the number of houses in that industry are few, there should be no great practical difficulty involved for the censorship authorities.”

Department has received a few letters concerning some of the codes listed above, but continues to receive daily numerous communications urging use of Acme Code.

It is suggested that you transmit informally to the British authorities the information furnished by the International Communications Committee, stating that the Department is not in a position to indicate a relative priority for codes with which American business is most concerned but that it hopes that the information above mentioned may be of assistance to the British authorities. You may add that the Department hopes that the British authorities will see their way to permit the inclusion of some additional codes primarily used by American business interests in the list of codes whose use is now permitted in telegraphic traffic between the United States and Great Britain.

Please continue to keep the Department advised concerning developments in this matter which are of great interest to American business firms engaging in international commerce.74

  1. In telegram No. 707, March 21, 1940, 2 p.m., the Ambassador in the United Kingdom reported that it had been decided to authorize three additional codes: the Acme Commodity and Phrase, the New Standard three and five-letter, and the Lombard General and Shipping Code (841.731/2323).