The President of the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee (Welles) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: As your Excellency is undoubtedly aware, the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee convened in this city, gave its wholehearted cooperation to the Third Pan American Coffee Conference with the object of aiding in arriving at an agreement among the American coffee producing countries, with a view to alleviating the destructive effects with which present conditions confront the coffee industry.

After the close of the Third Pan American Coffee Conference, this Committee directed its efforts towards putting into effect among the participating countries the agreement reached at that Conference.

In the meantime, the Second Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics, which took place in Havana, directed the Committee to proceed, among other things:

“To cooperate with each country of this continent in the study of possible measures for the increase of the domestic consumption of its own exportable surpluses of those commodities which are of primary importance to the maintenance of the economic life of such countries;

“To propose to the American nations immediate measures and arrangements of mutual benefit tending to increase trade among them without injury to the interests of their respective producers, for the [Page 395] purpose of providing increased markets for such products and of expanding their consumption;

“To create instruments of inter-American cooperation for the temporary storing, financing and handling of any such commodities and tor their orderly and systematic marketing, having in mind the normal conditions of production and distribution thereof;

“To develop commodity arrangements with a view to assuring equitable terms of trade for both producers and consumers of the commodities concerned;

“To establish appropriate organizations for the distribution of a part of the surplus of any such commodity, as a humanitarian and social relief measure.”10

In these circumstances, I take pleasure in informing your Excellency that this Committee has undertaken the study of the coffee problem in all the various aspects in which it touches the economy of the Continent, with the purpose of presenting to the interested governments, in the near future, satisfactory solutions covering an agreement on export quotas, both for the United States market and for the rest of the world, and a plan for the “temporary storing, financing and handling” of exportable surpluses of that commodity now held in American countries.

The activities of the Committee should in no way be understood as constituting an obstacle in the way of the Pan American Coffee Bureau in its discharge of whatever functions may eventually fall to it as a result of the resolutions of the Third Pan American Coffee Conference. Quite on the contrary, the Committee will consider with the greatest interest whatever suggestions the Pan American Coffee Bureau may be good enough to offer to the Committee towards the solution of the problem.

The Committee, deeply concerned with the growing dislocation and fall in the price of coffee in the consuming markets, believes that it is urgently necessary to proceed without delay to an application of proper collective measures in order to avoid the disastrous situation which would face the inter-American economy if the producing countries should fail to adopt some common plan to protect this commodity in the world market.

I hasten to advise Your Excellency that the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee will receive with the greatest pleasure whatever suggestions Your Excellency’s Government may be good enough to offer concerning the important question now before us.

At the same time, I am pleased to inform Your Excellency that the Committee shall also undertake the study of problems in relation to [Page 396] other important commodities of the Americas with a view to finding solutions to these along similar lines.

I trust that the Committee may count upon the valuable collaboration of Your Excellency’s Government for the efficacious discharge of this task.

Accept [etc.]

Sumner Welles
  1. Second Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics, Habana, July 21–30, 1940, Report of the Secretary of State (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1941), p. 82.