884.515/34c: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk)

1588. For Gunter46 from Treasury. Repeat to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Suggested letter to be sent to the Secretary of the Treasury indicating Ethiopia’s need for silver.

[“]My dear Mr. Secretary: It is believed that the following information will indicate the present vital need of Ethiopia for the silver which has been requested.

At the present time, Ethiopia does not have a national currency system of its own. The money in circulation in Ethiopia consists of East African notes, Maria Theresa dollars, and a small amount of East African and Italian subsidiary coin. This money is inadequate for the needs of Ethiopia. Great inconvenience in exchange results from the use of several kinds of money. Moreover, there is a marked shortage of subsidiary coin.

To correct this situation and to aid the economic development of Ethiopia, the Imperial Government of Ethiopia plans to establish a national currency system and retire the money now in circulation. To insure an adequate supply of subsidiary coin, an essential part of the new currency system, it will be necessary to have 5,430,000 ounces of silver for the minting of Ethiopian 50–cent pieces. It has been concluded that the use of any substitute for silver in this coin would not be practical in Ethiopia.

The only silver the Imperial Government of Ethiopia now has on hand consists of some 2,000,000 Maria Theresa dollars, the silver content of which is approximately 1,500,000 ounces and could supply only a fraction of the silver requirement. In view of the urgency of the need, the lack of minting facilities in Ethiopia, the difficulties in providing for coinage in two places and the time which would be lost in the transportation of dies, it would be impractical to attempt to use the Maria Theresa dollars for a part of the silver needed at the present time.

Accordingly the Imperial Government of Ethiopia finds it necessary to fill the present requirement for silver from other countries. Consideration has been given to possible sources of supply, and it has been determined that the United States is the only available source from which silver may be procured.

In view of these facts, the Imperial Government of Ethiopia sincerely hopes that it will be possible to grant the request for the lend-leasing of 5,430,000 ounces of silver from the stocks of the United States Treasury through the Office of Lend-Lease Administration, the silver to be returned to the United States Treasury on an ounce for [Page 117]ounce basis within 5 years after the end of the existing national emergency in the United States, as determined by the President of the United States, provided, however, that if the conditions of the world supply of silver make it advisable such period may be extended by agreement of both governments for an additional 2 years.

Very truly yours,

Name of Representative and Title.”

  1. John W. Gunter, Treasury representative in Cairo.