838.24/481: Airgram

The Ambassador in Haiti (White) to the Secretary of State

A–280. Department’s airgram of June 7, 6:10 p.m., 1943,44 concerning proposal to require Import Recommendations solely for allocated materials and Department’s circular telegram No. 130 of June 12, 7 p.m., 1943,45 concerning the issuance of Current Export Bulletin no. 99.46

[Page 228]

As stated in the Embassy’s telegram No. 104 of June 14, 2 p.m., 1943,47 in reply to the telegram No. 130 under reference, there will be only protracted confusion and discredit of machinery now working smoothly if importers in Haiti are permitted to lodge appeals with BEW. The same unquestionably would hold true if the suggested plan in the Department’s airgram under reference should be put into effect. Moreover, the Embassy is strongly of the opinion that any drastic change in the present decentralization procedure, insofar as it applies to Haiti, would have confusing effects.

There is every reason to believe that the Haitian Government itself definitely does not desire that there be “licensing of any material outside of allocated materials without Import Recommendations provided such materials are shipped only after all available materials covered by Import Recommendations have been shipped”. It should be noted that there are any number of materials not under estimate of supply which are of far greater necessity to Haiti than many materials under estimate of supply, for example, cotton and rayon piece goods, flour, both laundry and toilet soap, lard, et cetera, for which Import Recommendations have been issued and are continuing to be issued in sufficient quantities.

The Country Agency, as well as the bulk of importers, now have gained knowledge of both the details and the broad scope of the plan. Not only have importers in general failed to offer objections, except a few importers at the very outset, but they have voiced their satisfaction concerning the plan in operation as a vast improvement over that which preceded it. This is based on their belief that under a controlled plan, with both the Embassy and the Country Agency acting together, the importers face a far better chance of obtaining, and obtaining more quickly, the goods which they order.

Under the improved setup of the Country Agency, with Mr. Défly48 now at its head, there has been marked improvement in its operations, as previously reported. Its personnel has been strengthened, its bookkeeping operations have been considerably improved, and it has achieved much greater flexibility in operations.

The target tonnage figure of 1700 long tons of dry cargo monthly has been achieved each month since its establishment and the average monthly tonnage has in fact been substantially above this amount. The Standard Fruit Company has indications that the total being brought in June will exceed 3,500 long tons. Shortages naturally develop here from time to time in certain imported items, but these current shipping facilities, plus continued small amounts being transported by small boats operating out of South Florida ports, appear [Page 229] sufficient to provide reasonable imports for Haiti, barring unforeseen eventualities.

The Embassy is of the opinion that the present procedure of requiring Import Recommendations for all imports has acted as a beneficial deterrent, although on a limited scale as yet, to comparatively widespread black market operations, wartime profiteering and other unsatisfactory conditions prevailing in Haiti, as the competent Haitian authorities are disposed to recognize. Further extremely valuable information is being obtained under this procedure for effecting a more satisfactory control of a commercial situation as against the threat of inflation.

In an extremely competitive market such as this it is probable that any procedure to permit importers of non-allocated materials to receive imports without Import Recommendations would cause resentment among some importers required to follow the decentralization procedure with its attendant controls by the Haitian Government and this Embassy. Such resentment undoubtedly would produce criticism and other unfavorable results. Moreover, it should be noted that certain elements of the business community engaged in wartime profiteering, etc. and whose operations should be watched would be most benefited by exemption from presenting Import Recommendations.

In view of these circumstances the Embassy has deemed it inadvisable to discuss the matter with the Country Agency, but it has requested the Agency to urge importers to place orders by telegram for an amount equal to three months’ shipping target tonnage, namely 5,100 long tons, of a type essential to Haitian economy, readily available, and not requiring WPB49 priority assistance for manufacture or processing. In view of the information set forth herein no reference was made to the Country Agency concerning the possibility of increased shipping facilities between the United States and Haiti.

  1. Ante, p. 117.
  2. Ante, p. 119.
  3. Issued by the Office of Exports of the Board of Economic Warfare.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Serge Léon Défly.
  6. War Production Board.