The Secretary of State to the Minister in Egypt ( Kirk )
174. Department’s 148, May 15, 11 a.m., and your 463, May 12, 10 a.m., and previous. The Department has been looking into the many questions which present themselves in connection with the [Page 307] desired purpose of exchanging supplies with Egypt. Existing war conditions and the defense controls in this country present many problems for which definite solutions must be found before the exchange can be arranged. The primary ones are as follows:
- Since the ordinary channels of commercial representation are no longer active or available, the arrangements for the actual placing of orders, supervision of their production and arrangement for their shipment requires close contact and discussion here with American producers and different branches of the American Government concerned.
- For commodities subject to export licenses the issuance of the necessary licenses must be arranged.
- For commodities the production of which is determined under a priorities system, arrangements must be made for the securing of priority permits.
- The provision of shipping space must be worked out in consultation with the governmental authorities which now so largely control that space.
- Methods of payment must be determined (including possible relation to the lease-lend legislation).
These problems are so many-sided and have so many technical elements in them that it seems plain to the Department that if the Egyptian Government is serious in its wish it would (a) have to despatch to this country a mission possessing full and detailed knowledge of what Egypt wishes to buy, and full technical knowledge; (b) have to convey the necessary authority to someone here to place orders, accept the goods, help to arrange the shipments, and make the payments.
The work of such Egyptian representatives could be enormously facilitated if it were carried on with the help of the British Purchasing Commission in this country, and this Commission now has vast experience in such arrangements and a very large staff equipped to handle it. For that reason the whole matter has been discussed by the Department with the British Purchasing Commission which expresses itself as entirely agreeable to render all possible assistance to the Egyptian representatives if it is so instructed from London. The advantages of such an arrangement are numerous. The Purchasing Commission has now wide technical knowledge of manufactured products; they know where orders for such commodities can be placed; they are experienced in procedures necessary for obtaining priorities for export licenses; they are familiar with details of getting commodities shipped from interior points and loaded on shipboard. In addition, as indicated in the Department’s 148, they have a very large voice in determining what outbound cargo is to be transported in the shipping tonnage available between the United States and the Red Sea.[Page 308]
It is suggested that you explain the situation as outlined above to the Egyptian Government and pass on our suggestion regarding the utilization of the facilities of the British Purchasing Commission, suggesting at the same time that the way to effect this arrangement would be to have the Egyptian Government approach the British Government.
The Commercial Counselor of the Egyptian Legation supplied the Department yesterday with the list of commodities47 referred to in the Department’s 148. The specifications set forth in this list as regards the particular commodities are too general to serve as the basis for placing orders with American producers and manufacturers, and in many instances also too general to permit decision by the American Government as regards priorities. For example, it is not enough to know that Egypt desires to buy plates, rods, et cetera, of aluminum alloys. The Egyptian representative must be in a position to specify precisely what sizes, kinds, and other technical descriptions are required, and also what substitute articles might fill the need if aluminum is not available. A summary of this cable is being given to the Egyptian Minister in Washington.
- Not found in Department files.↩