Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Economic Affairs (Hawkins)
Mr. Jopson13a said that the British Government are committed to the Dutch and to U.K. industry to some form of a new committee to succeed [Page 958] the IRRC after April 30. The British Government’s desire to broaden the basis of the committee derives from a) the certainty that the committee would inevitably interest itself in a preliminary study of long-range rubber problems as well as fulfilling its primary objective of a statistical and information service; b) the fact that it would be unrealistic to confine the scope of the committee to crude rubber only. The British Government doubt if direct discussions on long-term rubber problems would get very far at present. Firstly, the U.S. representatives could hardly, for political reasons, give a firm undertaking regarding the future treatment of the synthetic rubber industry. Secondly, the basic factors, such as costs and quality of synthetic production, quality of Far Eastern rubber after liberation, are so speculative that the most that could be expected of the discussions would be an agreement to continue them. In these circumstances the British Government feel that the best solution would be the constitution of a new committee which would in effect be an international study group on the lines discussed during the conversations about commodity agreements last autumn.14 The proposed committee would have no executive function, its primary concern being the collection and discussion of technical information concerning the present position and future treatment both of the natural and synthetic rubber industries. In the course of time the committee might discuss post-war problems and eventually, it is hoped, would be in a position to put forward agreed recommendations for dealing with such matters on an international basis. London would regard this as a logical development, but in the first place the U.K. representatives on the committee would be instructed to take the line that the committee should, in the first instance, concentrate on the collection of information. London would not exclude the eventual desirability of U.S.A.–U.K.–Dutch discussions, outside the committee, to secure agreement on long-range policies.
The British Government feel that appropriate liaison arrangements could be relied upon to eliminate duplication between the proposed committee and the Combined Raw Materials Board.15
The British Government are very ready to consider the revision of any arrangements hitherto contemplated for the constitution of the committee and the character of its delegates. Although they could not agree formally to tie their hands as to personnel, they would insure that the U.K. representation was such as to make it abundantly clear that the new committee was in fact a new committee.
The British Government propose that preliminary talks should be held in London between representatives of the U.S.A., U.K. and Dutch [Page 959] to discuss, as it were de novo, the composition and functions of the proposed committee.
The British Government would not favor a committee functioning simultaneously in London and Washington because it would appear to them to cause duplication. The British aim would be a single committee in London although there would be every advantage in periodic visits by its members to the U.S.A. to obtain information and to exchange views. London’s concept of the new committee would be a body divorced from the old and suspect associations of the past and in effect an international study group on the basis envisaged in the Washington conversations of last autumn.
If the U.S.A. are agreeable to join in these discussions, a further breathing space could doubtless be arranged to avoid the necessity of establishing a new committee before April 30.
The Dutch representatives in Washington have been informed of this approach and approve of it though formal agreement of their Government has not yet been obtained.