The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 5.]
Sir: Referring to the Department’s instruction No. 1134 of December 26, 193960 (File No. 648T.006/12) directing this Mission to bring to the attention of the appropriate British authorities certain considerations respecting American commercial rights in Kenya and other East African areas and the effect thereon of recent British import licensing and exchange control measures, I have the honor [Page 119]to report that the subject was yesterday discussed with Mr. Nigel B. Ronald, Chief of the General Department of the British Foreign Office. There was also left with him a copy of the enclosed aide-mémoire. At the same time he was informed of the inquiry made by the Japanese Embassy in Washington and of the Department’s reply to that Mission.61
Mr. Ronald said that he was unable at the moment to indicate the precise position but that the general problem of the control of imports in the British colonies and mandates was being given active consideration at this time. The Japanese Government, he said, had approached the British Government on the subject, as he recalled, about the end of November. The Italian Government had also touched on the matter.
Speaking informally, Mr. Ronald said that the problem was one of the availability of exchange. The relative position of exports and imports and the resultant excess of exchange or the lack of it necessarily had an influence. With Great Britain engaged in a life and death struggle, it was necessarily obliged to use its exchange resources as effectively as it could. To his inquiry as to the American attitude the reply was made that in the past the United States Government had on a number of occasions strongly urged the view that measures rendering access to markets contingent on the relative position of bilateral trade balances were discriminatory.
Mr. Ronald indicated that as soon as the study now being made of the general question brought up in the Embassy’s aide-mémoire had progressed to a conclusion, the Foreign Office would be glad to give the Embassy a considered answer.