Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Adviser on International Economic Affairs (Stinebower)

Participants: The Egyptian Minister
Mr. Anis Azer, Commercial Counselor, Egyptian Legation
Mr. Feis
Mr. Stinebower

The Egyptian Minister and the Commercial Counselor came in to pursue further the question they had brought up with various officers of the Department some time ago regarding the facilitation of exports from the United States to Egypt of commodities of which Egypt has great and pressing need.

Mr. Feis began by referring to the suggestion which had been previously made both to the Commercial Counselor and to the American Legation in Cairo to the effect that the most satisfactory method of expediting delivery of goods would be for the Egyptian Government to request the British Government to instruct the British Purchasing Commission in this country to be of assistance to the Egyptian representatives, and that in addition the Egyptian Government send technically qualified representatives to this country with specific and detailed knowledge of the commodities which it is desired to obtain.

The Minister replied that he had been informed by Sir Arthur Salter and by Captain Coventry that the British Shipping Ministry and the British Purchasing Commission, respectively, have received [Page 311] instructions from London to be of assistance, and that they have in a general way been of such assistance. Mr. Azer complained however that this assistance was always rendered primarily with a view to the British military needs and to Egyptian military needs strictly interpreted, and that it was difficult to get assistance on purchases which were not obviously directly related to war effort even though they might be indirectly related. Except for war equipment, shipping on the one hand was primarily administered with regard to the bulkiness of the articles required and it was possible to get shipping space allocated for articles in packages or bags that would “fit in” around other cargo whether the articles were directly related to war effort or not. As it had worked out, it frequently happened that if they could get assistance for purchasing they could not make satisfactory arrangements for shipping the products involved, whereas if they could get shipping allocation they would not get purchasing assistance. The question of shipping allocation was easing somewhat, though.

Mr. Feis referred to the latest list of Egyptian desiderata which had been received from the Legation at Cairo,50 and again pointed out that this was so lacking in specific detail that there seemed to be very little which this Government could do with such a list by way of helping to arrange for priorities or export licenses or finding manufacturers with available capacity for producing the desired commodities. He again stressed the need for technical experts from Egypt to work closely with the British Purchasing Commission.

The Minister agreed to go over the problem again and to get off a telegram to his Government recommending this course of procedure, perhaps discussing it with the Department before sending it.

Mr. Feis undertook to get off another telegram of instruction to the American Minister, and to show this to the Egyptian Minister before it was despatched.

  1. See telegram No. 571, May 23, 3 p.m., from the Minister in Egypt, p. 306.