811.24 Raw Materials/243: Telegram

The Chargé in Belgium (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

93. My telegram No. 92, July 26, 6 p.m.33 The Secretary-General of the Foreign Office, Mr. Van Langenhove, yesterday stated orally to two members of the Embassy staff that in spite of the numerous difficulties encountered, which he summarized, the Belgian Government was prepared to take 30,000 tons of wheat in exchange for tin. He added that this statement was being made to supplement Mr. Pierlot’s note of July 10 (see Embassy’s despatch No. 389, July 11) and that to save time instead of sending a second written note he had put the substance of what he said in an aide-mémoire (undated and not initialed) which in translation reads as follows:

“In the note which he addressed on July 10 to His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States relative to the American proposal looking toward the exchange of certain raw material and agricultural products Mr. Pierlot explained that in the absence of a guarantee with respect to delivery and transportation in the event of an international conflict such a transaction would be of no practical interest to Belgium but that the latter, desirous of showing the spirit of cooperation by which it is animated would be pleased to agree in principle to an exchange of tin for wheat.

The Belgian Government has experienced the greatest difficulties in formulating a practical proposal to this end.

In the first place it would be contrary to the policy which it has outlined for itself to carry out the transaction otherwise than through [Page 455] the intermediary of normal commercial channels and it is frankly reluctant to impose a given direction upon the transaction in these channels furthermore as Mr. Pierlot’s note of July 10 has already indicated Belgian storage capacity for wheat is virtually exhausted.

Finally Belgium’s ability to furnish tin is likewise limited.

These different circumstances compel the Belgian Government as Mr. Pierlot had indicated to limit the scope of the transaction and to propose that it apply merely as an experiment to fix quantity of 30,000 tons.

It goes without saying that the terms of the transaction, especially the determination of the exact prices, quantities and qualities, the times and conditions of delivery, should be decided subsequently with the assistance of experts.”

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