811.24 Raw Materials/133: Telegram

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

64. Department’s telegram No. 24, April 24, and my telegram No. 62, April 29, 6 p.m.23 In response to note delivered by me to the Prime Minister April 29 outlining the Department’s views I was handed yesterday a formal written reply during conference at the Foreign Office in which Prime Minister states that he is ready to examine the proposals with the desire to give a favorable answer. From oral statements made by Belgian officials at the time the reply was handed to me I understand that the Belgian Government has accepted in principle the desirability of the proposed exchange of strategic raw materials for agricultural products subject to the subsequent working out of details through further discussion. The full text of both notes is being transmitted by pouch due in New York May 24.24

Following is a summary of the main points of the Belgian reply.

The amount of tin available would be subject to arrangements that could be made with the International Tin Cartel which would entail discussion with technicians.
No cartel restrictions affect other raw materials produced in the Belgian Congo such as manganese, radium, cobalt and bort which they can more freely discuss.
The Belgian Government would also be interested in procuring gasoline for the Congo through proposed exchange transactions.
Information is requested as to the quantity of each commodity which United States might require.

During the conversation they brought up the question of transportation with special reference to the possibility of making shipments in event of armed conflict in Europe and consequent establishment of a blockade possibly preventing the receipt of food supplies. In that connection I was asked whether an exception in pending neutrality legislation could be made for delivery of foodstuffs destined for civilian population in time of war through some philanthropic organization such as the Red Cross.

The Belgian authorities promised to investigate promptly the International Tin Cartel situation in order to obtain definite information on this subject and agreed to furnish us with data as to amounts of cotton and wheat which Belgium could absorb.

Request information by cable with reference to points above named together with any suggestions from the Department which would [Page 443] facilitate further discussion. I require especially information concerning quantities of various commodities desired by United States which Belgium might be able to furnish.

  1. Latter not printed.
  2. Despatch No. 324, May 15, and the two enclosed notes, not printed.