Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Commercial Treaties and Agreements (Hawkins) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Grady)

Mr. Grady: Steps should be taken as soon as possible to meet the problem presented by our own and Argentina’s surplus corn. Prior to the Habana Conference, officers of this Division, in collaboration with Mr. Wheeler and other officers of the Department of Agriculture, formulated proposals for dealing with this situation. These proposals took the form of a carefully prepared draft agreement which might be concluded between this Government and the Government of Argentina. It was decided, however, to hold the matter in abeyance until after the Habana Conference in order to see what action the Conference might take which would have a bearing on it.

The Habana Conference in its resolution on economic and financial cooperation instructed the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee:32

  • “3 (c) To create instruments of inter-American cooperation for the temporary storing, financing and handling of any such [exportable surplus]33 commodities and for their orderly and systematic marketing, [Page 492] having in mind the normal conditions of production and distribution thereof;
  • “3 (d) To develop commodity arrangements with a view to assuring equitable terms of trade for both producers and consumers of the commodities concerned;”

The same resolution in part 2 provided that “For the purpose of dealing with special problems there may be organized subcommittees, composed of representatives of the interested countries, which would meet at such places as may be deemed most appropriate for their effective functioning.”

Since the proposed corn arrangement seems clearly to come within these terms of reference of the Inter-American Committee, it appears that the Committee is now the proper medium for promoting this arrangement. If this is correct, it is suggested that the matter be brought up in the Committee in the appropriate manner at the earliest possible moment since the time available is limited by the fact that our own corn crop will be coming on the market about October first.

It would seem appropriate that a subcommittee be set up consisting of Argentine and United States representatives, since these are the only two countries in the hemisphere which have a corn surplus problem. Our representation on the subcommittee should include Mr. Wheeler or Mr. Evans of the Department of Agriculture, both of whom have participated in formulating the draft agreement and are, therefore, thoroughly familiar with the problem and seem satisfied that this is the most feasible method of dealing with it.

Harry C. Hawkins
  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.
  2. Brackets appear in the original memorandum.