The Chargé in Estonia ( Leonard ) to the Secretary of State

No. 40

Sir: I have the honor to report that I have had a conversation with the Estonian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Karl Selter, relative to the status of the commercial treaty relations between the United States and Estonia.

On the day of my return from home leave (February 16, 1939) I took opportunity to greet Minister Selter, when he kindly expressed pleasure in seeing me back in Estonia and said that he would be glad to have a further talk with me. On February 21, 1939, I called at his office and he expressed particular interest in the possibilities of increasing trade between Estonia and the United States, and stated that it would be difficult for Estonia to import more American goods unless a bigger market could be found for Estonian goods in the United States. He cited shale oil and wood pulp as two important export articles.

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I again took opportunity to point out the multilateral trade principle of the United States and that my Government would always appreciate any proposal on the part of Estonia looking toward equality of opportunity to American exporters in the application of Estonia’s system of trade control. In this connection, we discussed the question of further preliminary conversations to ascertain whether a sufficient basis existed for the eventual negotiation of a Trade Agreement between Estonia and the United States. Mr. Selter said he would welcome such conversations, but they would require, of course, more time than to May 22nd next, the date of expiration of the existing treaty of friendship, commerce and consular rights between the United States and Estonia. Hence, there was the question of prolonging [Page 470] the existing treaty. I informed Mr. Setter that I had gained the impression while in the Department, that the most practicable course would be to prolong the existing treaty, but that the Department would first like to have the opinion of the Estonian Government on that point. Mr. Setter expressed himself as happy to get this information and stated that he felt the same way, and that he favored the withdrawal of previous notices on the part of the Estonian Government to modify or terminate the present treaty, but that before giving me a definite official answer he would have to talk with the Minister of Economic Affairs and others concerned in the Government. He said he also wished to talk over the matter with Mr. Meri.

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Respectfully yours,

Walter A. Leonard