800.6354/295: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

4439. Department’s 3855, September 17. Following are pertinent extracts from communication received today from Colonial Office in reply to Department’s inquiries:

“… you make three points. The first is ‘What articles if any are being considered for inclusion in the new agreement looking towards the protection of the interests of the consuming and importing countries?’ As you are no doubt aware, the 1937 Agreement contained the following article 6, headed ‘Consumers’ Representation’: ‘The Committee shall, within one month of the first meeting, invite a representative of tin consumers in each of the two largest tin consuming [Page 525]countries to attend its meetings and to tender advice to the Committee regarding world stocks and consumption.’ This article is reproduced in the draft of the new agreement with the substitution for the words ‘each of the two largest tin consuming countries’ of the words ‘United States of America and a representative of other tin consumers.’ You will see, therefore, that so far as this matter is concerned there is no change in the situation.

Your second point is that ‘Your Government feels confident that an adequate opportunity will be given for consultation in regard to any clauses formulated for safeguarding consumer interests before a final agreement is decided upon’. I am not clear what the words ‘for consultation’ mean. In accordance with the instructions laid down in the 1937 Agreement the Committee did invite tin consumers in the United States and in England to appoint representatives and in fact the present United States representative is Mr. Todd and the present United Kingdom representative is Mr. Lever. The latter is a fairly constant, though rather silent, attendant at the Committee’s proceedings and I think that it can fairly be said that if he had had any criticism to make of the present provisions on this subject he would have made them. For some reason, of which I am not aware, Mr. Todd has not thought fit to attend the Committee for a very long time past and I can only suppose that he too is quite content with the proposals.

Your third point is ‘What arrangements, if any, are under consideration for the collection of reserves for buffer stocks to handle any shortage, emergency or unjustified price increases?’ It is not very easy to answer a question of this form without writing something like an essay on the subject. You are probably aware that two representatives of the International Tin Committee are in the United States negotiating with the Metals Reserve Corporation for a modification of the present arrangement by which that corporation are accumulating 75,000 tons of tin. The present proposal as I understand it, is that the quantity should be put up to 100,000 tons of tin, which must amount to well over 18 months’ supply of United States normal requirements. Part of the arrangement is that production shall be for practical purposes unrestricted until this stock is built up, and that, except for quantities required for immediate use by this country and our Allies and very small quantities for harmless neutrals, everything produced goes to the United States either for consumption or for addition to stocks. There can, therefore, be no question of building up a buffer stock of tin for the present; but the present buffer stock remains in the form of something over £2½ million sterling in cash which is available to buy tin when the occasion arises; and, so far as the British Government at any rate are concerned, there is no proposal that the buffer stock agreement87 should be allowed to lapse if the International Tin Agreement is renewed. There is, however, one point which must be borne in mind, and that is that while the Agreement is an inter-governmental one, and is due to expire on 31st December 1941 unless it is renewed, the buffer stock tin which has now been converted into this money was put up not by the governments but by the producers themselves. It is their money and a difficult situation will arise if they say that while they have no objection to the buffer stock continuing [Page 526]they want their own money back. I have an uncomfortable feeling that this letter may sound a little argumentative. Let me assure you that nothing of the sort is intended. It has quite genuinely caused a great deal of difficulty to the Tin Committee that the American representative has been so consistently absent, and it is, therefore, a little difficult to answer questions on subjects which it is really his business to watch and report upon to his constituents.”

  1. Opened for signature at London, June 20, 1938, International Labour Office, Intergovernmental Commodity Controls Agreements (Montreal, 1943), p. 90.