611.5531/831: Telegram

The Ambassador in Belgium ( Davies ) to the Secretary of State

146. Your telegram No. 66, September 21, 2 p.m. Foreign Office officials expressed yesterday to representative of the Embassy the opinion that owing to the existing political situation it would be impracticable for Belgium to commence now the negotiations for a new trade agreement adding that until forthcoming negotiations concerning blockade problems with the French and British are completed it would be very difficult to know what supplies of raw materials Belgium may be able to import for purposes of manufacturing and export. As another evidence of the prevailing uncertainty they [Page 434] referred to possible quota concessions to the United States in revised trade agreement asserting that Belgium might be compelled by the necessities of war to disregard these and make its purchases of the articles in question in more favorably situated countries. They seemed confident that by the time Mr. Theunis13 is able to discuss the matter with the Department (see my despatch No. 469, September 22)14 the negotiations with France and Great Britain will have terminated and the situation will be clearer.

There appears to be no indication that the Belgian authorities are not desirous of concluding a new trade agreement. They say that they are proceeding with their preparations such as the questionnaire addressed to Belgian manufacturers (see Embassy telegram No. 91, July 25, 1 p.m.) and that they will study the documents mentioned in Department’s telegram 51, August 24, 3 [2] p.m. The Chief of Economic Division of the Foreign Office in a recent letter to the Embassy stated that “it goes without saying that the Royal Government is entirely disposed notwithstanding the present events to enter into negotiations with the United States Government”. They appear to feel however that a postponement of the negotiations for the reasons set forth above is essential.

In the present situation I consider it advisable to await Theunis’ arrival in Washington before proceeding further with final preparations for negotiation.

  1. George Theunis, Belgium’s Special Ambassador to the United States.
  2. Not printed.