The Ambassador in Argentina (Armour) to the Secretary of State

No. 4808

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s strictly confidential telegram No. 513, April 13, 9 p.m., in which the Embassy was advised that the Department is prepared to ask the Department of Economic Warfare to reject all outstanding export licenses issued between October 10, 1941 and March 1, 1942, referring them to the Embassy for recommendations. Inasmuch as the same action was not contemplated at this time with regard to any other of the American republics, and since the Department was very anxious that no action be taken which might give the Government of Argentina grounds for alleging discrimination or pressure, the Department was not willing to make the request without the consent and knowledge of the Argentine Government.

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In line with the instructions to take this matter up with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the subject was discussed with Dr. Carlos L. Torriani, Director of the Division of Economic and Consular Affairs, and Dr. Alberto A. Bonfante, Subdirector of the same division. Both emphasized that they were not in a position to give an official opinion, either formally or informally, as the matter must of necessity be referred to the Ministries of Agriculture and Treasury and to the Argentine Central Bank. This they agreed to do by memorandum and give the Embassy a definite statement later on. Neither was of the opinion that it would be necessary to make the matter the subject of a formal note to the Minister.

In the course of the conversation, both officials raised certain positive objections. They fear that the revocation of all outstanding export licenses would result in harmful delay. Further, they drew the distinction, from the Argentine point of view, as between controlling the imports of merchandise through firms normally engaged in the business and the question of obtaining necessary import requirements regardless of through what channels. In other words, while they agree that it would be much better to have the merchandise allowed export licenses from the United States come direct to the proper firms and entities, they felt that it would be definitely better for the merchandise to reach Argentina through any channel than to run the risk of losing any of the limited supplies which Argentina hopes to receive. It was suggested that a more satisfactory solution would be for the Department to submit to the Embassy in Buenos Aires a list of the doubtful cases of the licenses now outstanding and to revoke only those recommended for that action by the Embassy.

It was explained that the Embassy was in no position to judge whether such a procedure would be feasible or not from the standpoint of the Department.

While definite advice as to the action preferred by the Argentine Government must await further advice from the Foreign Office, it would be appreciated if the Department could, in the meantime, advise as to the practicability of the above suggestion. In the course of the conversation it was emphasized that the United States wishes to follow the course most acceptable to the Argentine.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Thomas L. Hughes

Commercial Attaché