561.311F1 Advisory Committee/1049: Telegram

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

4867. Your 4867, October 12. The Prime Minister’s concern regarding a wheat agreement, as expressed in his message to the President (your 4796, October 8), has been brought to the attention of interested high officials of the Government and, as indicated in the President’s reply, it is fully desired to find, as you suggest, a formula which would promote constructive cooperative action and which would avoid, at the same time, any possible misrepresentation of Anglo-American intentions as adverse to the interests of European agriculture. It is our view that the discussions of the Meeting, in their bearing on the position of the wheat importing countries, and any parts of the text having to do therewith, are only an attempt to lay the groundwork of a plan that may win the voluntary support of all and that these elements of the plan will be the subject of future discussion and consultation with the wheat importing countries as soon [Page 542] as that may become possible, and that their adoption would rest solely upon the free judgment of advantage. We should want to avoid any formal step that could be construed to mean that the countries represented are committing themselves to imposing terms upon the wheat importing countries.

It is important to consider also the bearing of a wheat agreement upon efforts to strengthen in all countries adherence to the democratic principle of international cooperation in dealing with postwar problems of reconstruction and the significance which may be attached to the outcome of the present wheat discussions as an indication of the possibilities and effectiveness of such cooperation.

An agreement which seeks to bring about a postwar adjustment of the wheat situation chiefly through restrictions on exports, which makes no provision for participation by European countries possibly affected by such restrictions, which imposes the whole burden of adjustment on the wheat exporting countries, and which fails to envisage at least ultimately more liberal trade conditions would be most disappointing as an indication of the type of solution to be expected from a democratic, international approach to world problems.

It is strongly hoped, therefore, that it may be possible, without in any way embarrassing the war effort but rather in a way which would strengthen that effort, to conclude an agreement envisaging an expansion of the international wheat trade as a necessary objective of a basic solution of the wheat problem and in regard to which European countries concerned would be consulted and their approval sought at the appropriate time. The extent to which the United Kingdom, as the world’s leading wheat importing country, undertakes in the agreement to contribute to the attainment of this and other objectives will determine in a large measure the effectiveness of the agreement and the prospects of obtaining the cooperation of other wheat importing countries.

It is fully appreciated that the availability of foreign exchange as well as other uncertainties must be taken into account in any wheat agreement providing, as a part of the solution, for the expansion of the international wheat trade and that the extent to which such expansion is possible will depend upon other measures for postwar reconstruction, including the general lowering of trade barriers in wheat exporting and other countries. Although, for these reasons, provision in the agreement for expansion of the wheat trade may necessarily fall short of what would otherwise be desirable, it should nevertheless be made clear that the ultimate objectives of the agreement are in accordance with the liberal trade principles of Anglo-American collaboration as expressed in the Atlantic Charter.7

  1. Ante, p. 367.