740.0011 European War 1939/22731: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé at Tangier (Childs)

132. Your 195, May 5 and 221, May 15. Department’s 98, May 19. You may open conversations at once with the High Commissioner looking toward an agreement on the basis of the following conditions:

The United States is prepared to permit the purchase, and will issue licenses for export to Spanish North Africa, of the commodities enumerated below:
Leaf tobacco
Wheat flour
Powdered milk
Green tea
Chick peas
Coal and charcoal
Medicinal products
Cotton thread
Cotton goods
(For your information, kerosene may be supplied from Tenerife refinery under general Spanish-American petroleum arrangement. However, there may be certain propaganda advantages in supplying this article direct from the United States and Department prefers to leave details open for the present. Any quantity supplied from United States would be deducted from the Tenerife quota, and vice versa. You should communicate with Walter Smith, Petroleum Control Officer attached to Madrid Embassy, regarding the type of arrangement which might be practicable in this regard.)
The Spanish North African authorities may suggest the amount of each of the above commodities to be purchased in the United States in accordance with the needs of the area, subject to the limitation that the maximum quantity in each case may not be greater [Page 472] than the normal import requirements for consumption locally. This maximum would be reduced by the amount of any imports obtained from other sources, including Peninsular Spain, of these or similar commodities. The Spanish authorities shall furnish the American representatives in the area exact monthly statistics of all imports into Spanish North Africa, by countries of origin.
The High Commissioner shall guarantee that none of the products imported from the United States will be re-exported from Spanish North Africa, this guarantee to apply equally to the same commodities originating in Spanish North Africa or obtained from other sources and to similar products capable of use as substitutes, or in manufactured or converted form. The Spanish authorities shall furnish the American representatives in the area exact monthly statistics of all exports from Spanish North Africa, by countries of destination.
In view of Spanish attitude on the matter, the Department does not consider it essential to insist upon the admittance of special control officers for all these commodities. It does believe, however, that it would be mutually desirable and deems it distinctly important from our point of view that the deliveries of any petroleum products, their use and distribution should be subject to the same control as that now being put into effect for Spain and Spanish possessions under the general Spanish-American petroleum agreement. (In this connection it would be well for you to consult Mr. Smith regarding his plans for petroleum control in Spanish North Africa.) You may point out that in the absence of some such agreed-on observation the whole arrangement is always at the mercy of rumors designed to injure our relations.
The Spanish North African authorities would make available for purchase by the United States and license the export as directed by the United States of the following materials in the specified quantities annually.
(Figures are metric tons):
Lead, 500
Manganese, 1,000
Zinc, 100
Copper, 1,000
Cork, 3,000
Dyes and tanning materials, 50
Palm Fiber, 250
Graphite, 1,200
Antimony, 250
Wool, 25
Goat skins, 220
Sheep skins, 1,200
Cattle hides, 265
In the event that quantities greater than those listed above are available, the United States will arrange a substantial premium on sales of such supplementary quantities, provided the total export surplus of the commodities in question is offered for sale to this country. If additional quantities of the specified commodities should become available from sources outside Spanish North Africa, the Spanish authorities would not interpose obstacles to their purchase by and export to the United States.
If, in the operation of the agreement, the total value of the American exports exceeds that of exports to the United States from Spanish North Africa, the balance in favor of the United States shall be paid in Spanish currency, which shall be equally available for use in Peninsular Spain.
An American buying commission shall be admitted to Spanish North Africa for the purpose of examining the commodities purchased and investigating the possibility of making further purchases.
The Spanish authorities shall furnish shipping for all shipments under the agreement. The first shipment, and alternate shipments there after shall be made from Spanish North Africa to the United States.
If, for any reason, it should not be possible to transport to the United States any commodities purchased in Spanish North Africa under this agreement, the Spanish authorities would permit their disposal in whatever manner the purchaser might desire. At the option of the purchaser, the Spanish authorities would facilitate the movement of such commodities to Peninsular Spain, for storage or reshipment as conditions might warrant.

As used above, the term “Spanish North Africa” is intended to include Tangier, but in any communications to the High Commissioner you should mention Tangier separately, as in your aide-mémoire of April 10,44 in order to avoid any apparent recognition of Spanish control of the International Zone.

You should make it clear to the High Commissioner, in whatever manner you deem advisable, that our willingness to enter into an agreement of this sort arises solely from our belief that he will not permit any change in the neutral status of Spanish North Africa and will not allow that territory to become, in any way, a base of operations for our enemies. It should be obvious that any change in the status quo which would favor the Axis would force this Government to reconsider its attitude.

For your information, the Department while keeping the British informed does not contemplate any joint action in these negotiations, and they are also separate from any plans for trade with Peninsular Spain itself. We expect to be kept informed by the British as to their economic activities in Spanish North Africa.

Please report fully by telegraph regarding the progress of your conversations with the High Commissioner.

Repeated to Madrid.45

  1. Ante, p. 459.
  2. As telegram No. 636, July 27, noon.