The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 16.]
Sir: I have the honor to transmit to the Department, for its information and study, a memorandum which has been prepared at the Ambassador’s direction by our Commercial Attaché on the basis of interviews with French Government officials and trade representatives. It reflects the growing anxiety in this country that French exports to the United States must be stimulated in order to offset in some measure at least the tremendous expenses inevitably incurred through imports from the United States to meet French war-time requirements.
In an address before the American Club yesterday, Minister of Finance Reynaud summarized the present trade problems between France and the United States as follows:
“… What we need is not men, but arms, and raw materials and machines.
“And here comes a great problem, the problem of commercial exchanges between our countries. Long before this war began President Roosevelt and Secretary Cordell Hull often emphasized the need—which was one of the reasons for the tripartite monetary agreement28—for stimulating exchanges of wealth among nations. They proved that freedom of trade is one of the important aspects of that ideal of liberty which we cherish. When goods move across frontiers they carry ideas with them.
“Now what was true before the war is still truer today. Let us not forget the bitter lessons of the last war, which was not so long ago; let us not forget the unprecedented economic depression that it brought about. If, during the present war, we should commit the [Page 497]old blunder of letting ships come over from the United States full of goods and go back empty, we should be sowing the seeds of another and perhaps more terrible post-war crisis. French purchases in America must in large part be paid for by French labor or if not, both countries will suffer.”
It is obvious that France must make war-time purchases abroad and that the growing dependence upon the United States for arms, munitions and raw materials will further augment France’s unfavorable trade balance with the United States.
Counselor of Embassy