611.5431/10–845

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Woodruff Wallner of the Division of Commercial Policy

Participants: Mr. Bruggmann, Swiss Minister
Mr. Acheson, Under Secretary of State
Mr. Wallner, Division of Western European Affairs

The Swiss Minister opened the conversation by saying that his call was chiefly one of courtesy on the occasion of his return from a summer in Switzerland.

Mr. Acheson said he was very glad to see the Minister and to have the opportunity to talk with him again concerning the heavy imports of Swiss watches. He was expecting the visit this week of a delegation [Page 800]of labor people, who were presumably going to ask for a restriction on Swiss watch imports during the reconversion period.

Mr. Bruggmann said that Mr. Culbertson48 had taken this question up with him the other day, and that he could only repeat what he had told Mr. Culbertson, namely that the watch industry in Switzerland refused to believe that the United States really intended serious action on this question. The Industry was unwilling under the circumstances to accept further Government intervention. In order to put the Swiss Government in a position to impress upon the Industry the serious view which is being taken of this problem in Washington, the Minister suggested that we make a concrete proposal, setting a reasonable figure for future imports which could serve as a basis for discussion between the two Governments.

Mr. Acheson said that this seemed like an excellent suggestion and requested Mr. Wallner to get in touch with the Division of Commercial Policy with a view to making such a proposal. He told the Minister that some sort of action is necessary at once, that the Department is under considerable pressure from the watch Industry, Labor and Congress. He added that the President had made certain pledges to Congress when he requested the renewal of authority to conclude trade agreements, and that the Department must avoid being accused of allowing these pledges to go unfulfilled.

Mr. Bruggmann said that the Swiss watch industry was the hardest for the Government to deal with and that the present case was particularly complicated since, unlike pre-war days, the United States was the principal market for Swiss watches, other countries being prevented from buying them because of the war. Consequently, any restrictions on exports to the United States would have a serious effect on employment. This would lead again to political complications.

Mr. Bruggmann seemed impressed at last with the seriousness of this question.

The rest of the conversation was general.

  1. Paul T. Culbertson, Chief, Division of Western European Affairs.