861.51/3023: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Harriman )

246. Department’s 211, February 2, midnight. As a result of preliminary discussions which have taken place regarding postwar trade and reconstruction with the Soviet Union, the following procedure has been approved by the President:

1. You should continue to make clear to the Soviet Government the desire of the United States Government to assist, as far as it may be possible, in the post-war reconstruction of the Soviet Union. In order that plans may be made as soon as possible and in order that there shall be no delay in the delivery of such goods as the United States may be in a position to furnish to the Soviet Union, you should impress upon the appropriate Soviet authorities the desirability of obtaining as soon as practicable, accurate information regarding the amount and type of post-war reconstruction goods which they feel may be purchased in the United States.

In discussing this question you should request the Soviet authorities to furnish detailed information regarding immediate needs which cannot legally be furnished under Lend-Lease and as full information as possible regarding longer term needs.

2. As indicated in my 211 February 2, midnight, Hopkins is studying the question of the 300 million dollars worth of goods under Lend-Lease and will communicate with you on this question. In regard to long-term financial arrangements you should make it plain to the Soviet authorities that while we are disposed to assist them in every way possible in this matter we cannot at this time indicate either the amount or the exact nature of these long-term financial arrangements.

For your background information, the only agency of this Government having authority to extend credits for developmental purposes and the export of capital goods is the Export-Import Bank. Legal limitations now exist on the extension of credit by the Bank to countries such as the U.S.S.R. in which there are outstanding unsettled [Page 1048] intergovernmental obligations.37 Moreover the total lending authority of the Export-Import Bank is limited and the ceiling has been virtually reached. Thus the Bank has no existing authority to make credits in anything like the amount suggested.

Careful study is being given to both of these problems as well as to the general question of methods of financing immediate trade which cannot be arranged under Lend-Lease, as well as long-term, post-war development credits.

3. In order to coordinate here the work of the interested governmental agencies, there will be set up under a State Department chairman, a committee composed of representatives of the following organizations: Commerce, Tariff Commission, Treasury Department, Foreign Economic Administration, and perhaps the War and Navy Departments as well as the War Shipping Administration. The duties of this Committee will be to study and coordinate all matters related to this question resulting from negotiations in Moscow and to set appropriate machinery in motion in order to finance and expedite the delivery of goods to the Soviet Union.

  1. The failure of negotiations to implement the agreements of November 1933 in regard to claims and credits between the United States and the Soviet Union is described in Foreign Relations, The Soviet Union, 1933–1939, pp. 166191. The most significant of the legal limitations was the Johnson Act, approved April 13, 1934; 48 Stat. 574.