854.24/186: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant )

7694. The question of basic rations for Switzerland has had careful consideration here. As a result, we now wish to propose that our negotiators avoid offering formal assurances as to supply similar to those given the Swedes,12 unless there is specific demand for them by the Swiss. The reasons for this proposal are that there has been considerable opposition in some quarters here to the concept of basic rations in general. Also, since the Swiss have not yet requested basic rations, we would prefer to retain a somewhat more flexible system for making supplies available. In some instances it has proved extremely difficult to fulfill the letter of our supply commitments to Sweden at the stipulated time. Therefore, an attempt should be made to avoid, if possible, any form of “guarantee”.

The proposed schedule of basic rations including the proposed quantities, sources and remarks should be used as a basis for the negotiations with the Swiss on supply. If assurances as to supplies [Page 906] are not specifically requested then the proposed schedule could be given in the form of quotas with the understanding that the Allies would look with sympathy on Swiss procurement within its limits.

We have now received MEW’s savingram number 1187 of October 3013 which suggests numerous alterations in the original MEW proposed list of basic rations for Switzerland. We wish to suggest several more changes in the MEW schedule as it stands at present. We propose to liberalize several of the rations and suggest a few new rations which is believed will offer a particular inducement to the Swiss.

Our proposed increases are based on the assumption that the Swiss will agree in a large part and in all relevant cases, to the restrictions on Swiss exports to the enemy proposed in our suggested A, B, and C lists. We believe that if the Swiss are offered fairly liberal rations of commodities, for example, textile raw materials, which are not in tight supply, the proposed restrictions on their export to the enemy of similar or derived goods will be more palatable to them. If, on the other hand, the Swiss refuse to accept our new restrictions on their exports, then the proposed increases should be withheld where necessary.

In some cases where the goods, such as mercury, originate in the Iberian Peninsula, we have suggested a ration on the grounds that the Swiss are able to import and have imported without authorization from the Allies. We consider it important to attempt to establish some control in the case of these commodities.

Another suggestion which we wish to put forward is that imports into Switzerland under certain of the proposed basic rations be made “subject to satisfactory assurances as to use”. The rations which we suggest be made subject to this condition are: castor oil, vegetable waxes, animal and insect waxes, iodine and iodine salts, mercury, casein, carbon black, prepared paints, rubber, asbestos, tin, and gum arabic. Such assurances would be required in the case of materials which enter into a variety of industrial processes or manufactures and which might therefore be of direct benefit to the enemy. The assurances which we would desire in these cases would be that the goods were to be used to the greatest possible extent for military, medical, or other essential purposes exclusively in Switzerland. It should not be difficult to obtain satisfactory information regarding the ultimate use and users of these commodities especially if the “inverted procedure” is placed in effect for all shipments into Switzerland under the blockade quota schedule.

[Page 907]

In several places in the schedule we have inserted, for reasons relative to the supply situation, the phrase “through U.S. or U.K. supply authorities”.

Our suggested changes in MEW’s schedule as it now stands are as follows:

[Here follow suggested changes for a long list of products.]

We hope that the Embassy and MEW will take into account the suggestions contained above in negotiating with the Swiss regarding supplies. The rations proposed by MEW, and as corrected in some cases by us, have been cleared informally with the various supply officials involved. The schedule of rations has not been cleared in any formal or preliminary way with the Combined Boards as we feel, after our experience in the case of the Swedish negotiations, that it would be better to clear it finally once the Swiss demands have been made known and discussed in London between you and M.E.W.

  1. For correspondence concerning the War Trade Agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden, see pp. 739 ff.
  2. Not found in Department files.