The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 9—11:50 a.m.]
606. The Board of Trade today informed the Embassy that consideration is being given to the introduction of some form of restriction upon imports, or at least purchase, of all products the importation of which is not yet restricted or controlled; and that, in the meantime, it has become necessary to take the action in regard to canned fruits indicated in the following aide-mémoire:
Tinned and bottled fruit is being imported and bought [brought?] forward in such large quantities that it has become necessary to take immediate measures to control the trade. An order will accordingly be made next week (probably on Thursday) with effect from 19th March adding tinned and bottled fruit to the list of goods which may not be imported except under license meanwhile, in order to check the flow of imports, which has recently become quite abnormal, the banks will, as from Monday 11th March, refuse to open any new credits and will refuse all transfers of currency outside the sterling area in respect of new purchases which are not yet on the water.”
The Embassy pointed out that the proposed restriction would apparently differ from previous orders in permitting the importation [Page 108]without license only of goods actually afloat on the specified date, whereas hitherto goods actually rolling have been admitted without license. The Board of Trade official thought that it would be best to take up cases of goods shipped but not yet afloat if and when they arise; but, when recent difficulties of this nature with other commodities were pointed out, he did not exclude the possibility that the formal order when issued would be in the form hitherto followed.
He emphasized that the recent volume of purchases had been of very abnormal proportions, and that stocks on hand and supplies recently acquired were adequate to meet needs for a considerable period. This did not mean, however, that purchases were being suspended entirely; but that licenses would, in his opinion, probably be granted when the need again arose.
When questioned, he also held out the possibility that some special consideration might be given to goods packed specially for this market.