The Chargé in Bolivia ( Woodward ) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 10—3 p.m.]
A–136. Reference Export Control Procedure Applied to Bolivia. The participation of the Bolivian Country Agency (the Priorities Section of the Banco Central) is still confused as a result of a lack of existence of a recognized Bolivian Government, and the suspension of the Decentralization Plan as applied to Bolivia.
The Country Agency is endeavoring to maintain its organization and its personnel in the face of considerable opposition anticipating that it will be needed if and when a Bolivian Government is recognized. At a meeting held on March 30, it was decided that the organization would be continued and that Bolivian importers would be encouraged to apply for import recommendations for all commodities [Page 501] subject to allocation, even though import recommendations cannot be accepted or processed by this Embassy. The Country Agency is fully aware that the import recommendations when sent to the United States have an informational character only and are not treated as official documents by the Foreign Economic Administration. The Bolivian Chamber of Commerce and the Bolivian Chamber of Industries, both quasi-official organizations, are supporting the efforts of the Country Agency to maintain the system of import recommendations. However, up to the present time there is no Bolivian law or regulation which stipulates that issuance of an import recommendation by the Country Agency is a prerequisite to the granting of foreign exchange for imports, or for the clearance of imports through the Bolivian customs. Accordingly, not more than 40 to 50% of Bolivian orders placed in the United States are covered by import recommendations at present, according to best estimates. Many importers, objecting to the long delays which their applications have always encountered in the Country Agency, much prefer to order direct from the United States and welcome the suspension of the decentralization plan. The Embassy naturally has refused to advise importers either to obtain import recommendations or to refrain therefrom. The Country Agency is encountering great difficulty in administering estimates of supply since all orders for allocated materials do not clear through the Country Agency. It is not clear whether the Foreign Economic Administration is enforcing the estimates of supply, and if so on what basis the allocations are being granted to various competing importers. The Embassy would welcome any information on this point which may be available in the Department or the F.E.A.
It will be apparent that the existing anomalous state of affairs is highly unsatisfactory and should be remedied at the earliest possible moment. Some importers believe that the unofficial import recommendations issued by the Country Agency facilitate the obtention of export licenses in Washington, while others believe that the unofficial import recommendations have no effect whatever. Many importers are at a loss as to whether they should obtain the unofficial import recommendations and are unable to understand why the Embassy can give them no advice in the matter.
Certain communications from the Department and F.E.A. (as for example Airgram 112 of March 2892 from the F.E.A. in regard to lumber export quotas) indicate a lack of understanding of the present situation in Bolivia in regard to export control. The airgram cited mentions “approval of import recommendations” and requests a quarterly report on quantities of lumber by species charged against the quota. Clearly this Embassy cannot approve import recommendations [Page 502] and cannot ascertain quantities charged against the lumber quota under approved import recommendations, when the Embassy has no participation in the processing of import recommendations.
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