The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy)
1463. Your 2379, November 16, 7 p.m. Since the Department has been kept fully informed regarding the lengths to which the British cocoa trading firms have gone, including pressure on Government, in an effort to sabotage the legitimate cocoa buying scheme of Rockwood and Company, it is not surprising to learn that participation in the new Government program is limited to established shippers. It is appreciated that the Government would wish to bring its new plan into operation with the least possible maladjustment, and that it may therefore seem easier to use only the established concerns. The effect of the decision in the case of the cocoa scheme, however, will be to strengthen the monopoly control of the entrenched interests and to close the West African cocoa trade to American participation in spite of the very large amount of West African cocoa taken by American consumers.
In view of the progress made by British governmental agencies during the past year or so in the study of the cocoa marketing situation in the Gold Coast and Nigeria, and of the well-advanced plans for direct American purchasing in those areas, the Department desires you to press strongly at the Foreign Office for a reconsideration of this feature of the British Government scheme, unless in your opinion there is clear evidence that this feature of the scheme is essential as a war measure and that the decision has been reached on sound grounds and quite apart from considerations arising out of pressure exerted by the established British cocoa shipping organizations.
It is believed that the Government scheme would not be less effective if it should provide for the participation of American concerns in cases where such concerns are able to satisfy the British authorities that they would cooperate fully in the scheme and would efficiently carry out the functions to be assumed by them. If the British Government desires, as indicated in your telegram, to reassure this Government and American consumers that there is no intention of profiteering in cocoa or in restricting supplies, then it should welcome the direct participation of one or more responsible American concerns in the present scheme, thus indicating that Government policy respecting cocoa is not influenced unduly by the established British traders. It is recalled that before the British trading companies opened up their campaign of opposition to the Rockwood plan, the responsible British authorities, both in London and in Lagos and Accra, encouraged the representatives of interested American concerns to believe that the British Government would welcome American participation in this trade.[Page 124]
There is of course some element of choice in the market as between West African cocoa and cocoa from other sources, and no doubt American consumers will be more inclined to maintain or increase their purchases of West African if they have evidence that the virtual monopoly maintained by British trading houses up to the present is not to be strengthened and perpetuated by Government regulations.
Please report the results of your representations by telegraph.