The Secretary of State to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: As you know, we have sought over a period of years to bring about improved relations with Argentina, a matter which is of course of particular importance at this critical time. A fundamental requirement in achieving this end is improvement in our trade relations with that country.

When Dr. Prebisch, Manager of the Argentine Central Bank, was here to arrange for loans to Argentina, he took the occasion to explore with us again the possibilities of concluding a trade agreement. Argentina’s present interest in improved trade opportunities arises not only in connection with the problem of servicing and repaying the loans, and of avoiding the impairment of Argentina’s high credit standing, but, even more importantly, that interest has of course been accentuated by the extremely difficult trade problems which have grown out of the war in Europe and the closing of continental markets to Argentine products.

Although the question of an Argentine trade agreement has in the past provoked considerable controversy of a political sort, the negotiation of an agreement which would ease Argentina’s position, and at the same time be beneficial to ourselves, would not, it is believed, require granting of concessions which could not be defended. On our part, it would include the more important concessions indicated in the attached schedules22 which were discussed with Dr. Prebisch on the occasion of his visit here. In discussing these concessions with him we of course made it clear that we could make no definite commitments until after considering information and views submitted [Page 399] in briefs or in public hearings after formal announcement of intended negotiations. The concessions indicated are recommended by the interdepartmental Trade Agreements Committee on the basis of exhaustive studies made over a long period of time and in the light of the current situation. On Argentina’s side, the agreement would provide substantial benefits for American trade, particularly with the return of more normal times.

I believe that the present time is particularly opportune for finally disposing of this long-standing and difficult matter. Under present conditions, domestic producers are enjoying greatly augmented protection owing to Argentina’s increased shipping costs and other difficulties of exporting to this country. Furthermore, there is growing realization by the people of this country that good trade relations with the other American Republics, notably Argentina, are essential to effective hemisphere cooperation.

Therefore, if you approve,23 I shall advise the Argentine Government that, if a basis for a trade agreement can be completed within a reasonable time, we would be prepared to issue the usual public notice of intention to negotiate the agreement and thereafter to conclude the negotiations as rapidly as possible.

Faithfully yours,

Cordell Hull
  1. Not printed.
  2. The original bears the following notation “CH OK FDR”.