Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State

The German Chargé d’Affaires called upon me this afternoon. He had requested an appointment with me this morning at the moment I had requested him to come to see me.

[Page 568]

When Dr. Thomsen came in he told me that he had been instructed by his Government to deliver me a note informing me of the new situation which had arisen by the proclamation by Germany of a protectorate over Bohemia and Moravia, and that the terms of the decree itself were contained in the note.19 There was no reference made in the note or in his conversation to Slovakia or to Ruthenia.

I accepted the note but made no comment whatever with regard thereto.

I then told Dr. Thomsen that I had desired him to come to see me in order that I might inform him that on the basis of an investigation of developments in so-called “barter” transactions in German-American trade, the Treasury Department has come to the conclusion that those transactions involve the bestowal upon German exports to the United States of a bounty or grant within the meaning of Section 303 of the Tariff Act of 1930.20 The Treasury Department therefore intends within the immediate future, under the mandatory provisions of Section 303, to impose and collect countervailing duties upon such imports into the United States in an amount equal to the amount of the subsidy.21

Dr. Thomsen asked what the phrase “immediate future” might mean. I told him that I understood an announcement would be made by the Treasury Department within the next forty-eight hours. Dr. Thomsen inquired whether this decision had been reached very recently. I told Dr. Thomsen that the matter had been under very careful consideration for some months and that the decision had now been arrived at, and further, that the law made it mandatory for the Secretary of the Treasury to take the action described. Dr. Thomsen remarked that his Government undoubtedly would be very much concerned. To this I made no reply.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Vol. i, p. 45.
  2. 46 Stat. 590,687.
  3. See Treasury Decision No. 49821, March 18, 1939, Treasury Decisions, vol. 74, p. 389, or Department of State, Press Releases, March 18, 1939, p. 203.