The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State

No. 3478

Sir: I have the honor to transmit for the Department’s information statistics prepared at the request of the Embassy by the local office [Page 101] of Grace and Company showing the small percentage (8 per cent in March) of Chilean exports to the United States carried by vessels of the Chilean merchant marine.

Grace and Company is now preparing similar statistics for April. During that month it is believed that only about 5 per cent of Chilean exports to the United States were carried by Chilean vessels.

It is to be noted that there are only three vessels belonging to the Chilean Line (Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores or C.S.A.V.) but they are also operating six small Danish vessels taken over last year. In the opinion of Grace and Company, the practical maximum annual shipments of cargo by these vessels to the United States would not exceed 120,000 tons.

The Embassy requested Grace and Company to make this statistical study since one argument against rupture of relations with the Axis which finds wide credence in Chile is that Chilean exports to the United States would thereafter be subject to attack by Axis vessels, it being the general belief that a large percentage of such exports is carried by Chilean vessels.

As a result of this study articles have now been published in the Chilean press (see my Despatch No. 3477 of May 3043) showing that the so-called protection against submarine attack against Chile’s exports extends only to the 5 to 8 per cent of those exports which are carried by the Chilean line.

Respectfully yours,

Claude G. Bowers
  1. Not printed; this despatch was dated June 1.