The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 13—5:15 p.m.]
970. Both before and since the receipt of the Department’s 778, March 8, 7 p.m., the Embassy had informally canvassed the future standard tonnage situation and there is no doubt that Lowinger77 [Page 513] accurately reflected British and Dutch opinion when he stated inter alia in his message to Mr. Jesse Jones78 (Embassy’s 931, March 11, 2 p.m.79) that “exports for the period July 1940–June 1941 will probably determine the standard tonnage for the future”. In view of the bitter controversies which have occurred in the past over questions of potential production, the fact that the year before the expiration of the tin agreement the quota has been set at 130 percent offers such an exceptional factual basis of apportioning productive capacity as not to be neglected.
As the Department is aware and as the Embassy has reported, for example in its 4149, December 19, the Dutch particularly and also the British feel strongly about Bolivia’s future standard tonnage, the causes for which go back many years and both countries are well aware that Bolivia being the highest cost producer is in the last analysis in a poor position to obtain undue advantages, especially as it has benefited unduly in recent years by having a standard tonnage it would not produce.
Statistically the position is that with the quota at 130% for the period July through December the output of the member countries has been as follows: Netherlands East Indies 130%; Nigeria 125%; Malaya 115%; Belgian Congo 115%; Thailand 100% and Bolivia 95%.
In these circumstances the Dutch and British would certainly reject Bolivia’s claim for special consideration as a result of a war which ended 6 years ago when they are involved in a current one. Nor would the possible interruptions and dangers facing tin supplies from the east be a telling plea in view of the fact that Mr. Jesse Jones (Department’s 511, February 18 , 6 p.m.)79 has informed the Tin Committee that, “Metals Reserve favors the extension of the present quota after July 1 and will definitely continue purchasing at the present rate and price for another year.” Thus Bolivia will be permitted to produce as much as it has demonstrated it can while adequate reserve stocks are being accumulated during the next year. If a case is to be made in terms of our buying contract with Bolivia and plans for the construction of a tin smelter it would have to be a detailed one.
Incidentally Patiño, whose personal relationship with the other members of the Committee leaves something to be desired, has not helped himself by first refusing to come to London and suggesting that the Committee meet in Lisbon and later only agreeing after obtaining assurances about immediate air passage back.
In all these circumstances the Department may wish to reconsider its 778, March 8, 7 p.m., for any such representations formal or informal [Page 514] will: (a) undoubtedly not obtain for Bolivia the continuance of a quota it has not been able to fulfill; and (b) will certainly adversely affect the Embassy’s standing in tin matters for it is really impossible for the Embassy “to convey to the British and Dutch Governments our attitude” and “not to assume any responsibility in the matter and do its best to support the Bolivian position”. While Señores Patiño and Ortiz-Linares will of course be given a most courteous reception by the Embassy it is hard to see how the Embassy can decisively aid Bolivia through contact with the officials of the British and Dutch Government who have a knowledge of and are concerned with tin. Exceptional treatment could only be obtained from the political heads of the British and Dutch Governments on other than factual grounds. Await your further advice.