811.20 Defense (M)/5924a: Circular telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Diplomatic Representatives in Certain American Republics 52

In order to give you background regarding the extreme urgency of the rubber situation, which has led this government to request you to institute immediate negotiations for the acquisition of the entire rubber production of the country to which you are accredited, you are advised of the following factors:

With the shutting off of far eastern sources of rubber (excepting only the Island of Ceylon) the nations which are directly producing armaments and implements of war,—namely, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada,—are dependent for new crude rubber supplies entirely on the American republics and Africa—sources which have produced only a fraction of our needs.
Existing stocks of crude rubber are wholly inadequate to meet military requirements and synthetic rubber plants are being rushed. Nevertheless, synthetic production will not be at full capacity before 1944, and in any event it is not at all certain that the use of crude rubber in tires and tubes can be entirely dispensed with.
A realistic analysis of the situation requires the conclusion that both the United States and the American countries united with us must dispense with all non-military uses of rubber not absolutely essential to the conduct of the war.
Careful and expert consideration is being devoted continuously in this country to methods of saving crude rubber in manufacture and of developing substitutes, and the advantages of these improvements may be fully realized only if the maximum amount of crude rubber is turned over to this country.
It is highly desirable that no one of the American Republics should acquire or use an amount of rubber disproportionate to the respective war or defense needs of that country and of the other American Republics, including the United States; likewise that articles manufactured from rubber should be allocated to the American republics on the basis of the contribution to be realized thereby to the winning of the war. Argentina, which we understand has on hand a stockpile sufficient for 8 or 9 months’ normal production for civilian needs in addition to supplies available for military needs, should not have the opportunity of amassing further stocks at the expense of the war effort.

The practical application of the foregoing means that it is absolutely necessary for the United States to acquire from producing countries all available crude rubber, including stocks on hand and rubber hereafter produced. It also means that the producing countries must cooperate with us in limiting internal consumption. Among measures which would achieve these ends, aside from the sale of rubber to us, are the limitation of exports (both of crude and manufactured rubber) to the United States, limitation of rubber manufacture within the country, limitation of rubber products in the country to uses essential to the conduct of the war, and the prevention of hoarding.

These steps are a practical carrying out of Resolution II of the Rio conference53 calling for an economic mobilization of the American republics and requiring positive action to that end. Any system under which the United States is put in the position of competing as to price with other American Republics for the acquisition of a commodity which should be allocated on the basis of war or defense needs, aside from any question of cost in dollars, will cause confusion in the negotiation of contracts and may result in a failure to make available to the conduct of the war the maximum amount of rubber and rubber products needed for that purpose. If the United States, in order to acquire crude rubber in the American republics, is required to negotiate from country to country at varying prices, none of the producing countries will be satisfied. There is no hesitation on the part of the United States in paying amounts necessary to procure the rubber under an orderly method, and our government is prepared to take into consideration all local features affecting price.

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The United States has carried out, and is continuing to carry out, substantial and important plans for the development of resources and for aiding in the maintenance of internal economies in the American Republics. The allocations agreed upon and the priority treatment now being accorded to the other American Republics with respect to many tight products are relatively much less severe than the treatment accorded to civilian users of the same products within the United States. This Government expects that there will be a parallel development in which the American republics will cooperate fully in all measures designed to allocate to the various republics the maximum amount of rubber products on the basis of respective war or defense needs. Arrangements through barter or otherwise which obtain for a particular country a disproportionate amount of rubber products will in the end only deter the common cause.

  1. Sent to representatives in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Mexico, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. With the exception of the prefatory paragraph, the same was sent to Argentina and Brazil.
  2. For correspondence concerning the Third Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the American Republics, held at Rio de Janeiro January 15–28, 1942, see vol. v, pp. 6 ff.; for text of Resolution II, see Department of State Bulletin, February 7, 1942, p. 119.