811.20 (D) Regulations/883a

The Secretary of State to Chiefs of Mission in the American Republics

Sirs: There is attached hereto a list1 of the articles and materials the export of which from the United States has been restricted in the interest of the national defense under the authority of the Act of July 2, 1940.2 As will be observed, these are for the most part commodities which either are not produced in the United States or are not produced here in sufficient quantities to meet the rapidly expanding needs of our defense program. The export of some of these commodities is very rigidly restricted, the export of others is permitted to proceed with comparative freedom, the action taken in each instance depending upon the extent of the supplies or the gravity of the shortage existing in the United States.

Every effort has been and is being made not to interfere with purchases in this country of these articles and materials by the other American Republics, and licenses are issued for export to those republics in all cases unless United States stocks of the commodity in question are dangerously small or are absolutely essential to our own defense program. Licenses have in general been granted for the export to the other American Republics of their normal pre-war purchases even of those commodities in which we have a serious deficiency. We have attempted also, in so far as we were able, to make available to the other American Republics indispensable articles and materials which they have not in the past customarily obtained in the United States but the other sources of supply of which are now cut off.

It is this Government’s intention to continue during 1941 to sanction the export to the other American Republics of quantities of the [Page 150] commodities in question representing as large a proportion of their usual imports of these commodities from all sources as the extent of our stocks and the needs of our defense permit. It is also our desire to consider sympathetically requests that may be received from the Governments of the other American Republics for permission to obtain in the United States quantities of these commodities in excess of their usual imports, if such quantities should prove to be absolutely essential in view of existing world conditions. In order that these objectives may be achieved and that they may be coordinated with our procurement plans, it is necessary that this Government have as accurate a forecast as possible of the probable requirements of these republics during 1941.

You are requested, therefore, to transmit promptly to the Department whatever information you may be able to obtain in regard to the annual quantities of each of the articles and materials referred to in the attached list (except arms, ammunition, and implements of war, aircraft parts, equipment, and accessories, machine tools, and the items listed in the proclamations of September 12 and 30, 19403) imported from all foreign sources during the years 1937–1940, inclusive, by the country in which you are stationed. Should information in regard to all of the commodities or all of the years referred to not be immediately available, you should, in view of the urgency of the matter, transmit at once whatever can be obtained promptly and supplement your original report with further statistics as soon as they can be obtained.

You are requested at the same time to approach the Government to which you are accredited, to lay before it the considerations set forth in the first three paragraphs of this instruction, to emphasize the fact that the general basis on which exports from the United States to the other American Republics will be authorized will be that of previous imports by those republics, and to urge that any requests which the Government to which you are accredited may desire to make for an unusual quantity of any given commodity should be presented in the near future in order that these requests may receive the most favorable consideration possible. Any such requests should be accompanied by an explanation of the need for the commodity and of the use to which it is to be put in the importing country.

In bringing this matter to the attention of the Government to which you are accredited you should, of course, make it clear that the United States cannot guarantee to furnish or to license for export to the other American Republics all, or any fixed proportion of, their usual imports of these articles and materials, or, a fortiori, any unusual quantities [Page 151] which they may desire to obtain. The Governments of those republics may be assured, however, that export licenses will be granted, on the general basis set forth above, in every case where the proposed exports would not seriously jeopardize indispensable stocks in the United States.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Sumner Welles
  1. Not printed.
  2. 54 Stat. 712.
  3. Department of State Bulletin, September 14, 1940, p. 213; ibid., October 5, 1940, p. 279.