Memorandum by the Administrator of the Foreign Economic Administration (Crowley)47

I have reviewed with Mr. Scheuer48 and Mr. Willauer the request from China for 176,000,000 yards of cotton textiles and four thousand trucks. We are in sympathy with the plight of China and Mr. Willauer has been working on the question of textiles and trucks for them. However, one thing that must be kept in mind is that in allocating these critical materials and food supplies, as Administrator of the Foreign Economic Administration which has charge of liberated areas plus lend-lease for our fighting allies, I must try to distribute these supplies with as much justice as possible.

Mr. Willauer advises me in the attached memorandum49 what it would mean if we are to meet this request. When it comes to meeting the requirements out of allocations for lend-lease in liberated areas or by reducing our civilian consumption as distinguished from a cut in our military requirements, I am informed that General Somervell is very sympathetic with the Chinese demands but is unwilling to cut back military requirements to meet it, and that all he is prepared to do is to give his moral support to civilian cut backs. The Inter-Agency Committee50 of which I am Chairman, in studying the overall picture, plans to look into the military’s stated requirements, and perhaps the best solution will be to split the Chinese need fifty-fifty between military and civlian supply. I do not see how it is possible for us to give a definite commitment to Dr. T. V. Soong or a recommendation to the President as early as Tuesday morning.

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In the Inter-Agency Committee we are studying the entire textile field, both at home and in France and other liberated countries. We hope to come up with a world balance sheet next week which will show us where we stand and what our various alternatives are. The terrible shortage that we face throughout the world on food and raw materials makes it imperative that we try to allocate our contribution on an equitable basis. With many of these representatives here in this country for the San Francisco conference, undoubtedly after adjournment they will visit Washington and each will make his appeal for his own country. It is necessary that we try to do these things in an organized way for the benefit of our own government. In the past many of these foreign missions have caused considerable confusion because of the lack of centralized control prohibiting them from going around and opening doors of other departments not directly concerned with supply responsibility.

I am setting this thought before you because I know that with all the problems that face us, unless we do handle them in the regular way, we may get ourselves involved in commitments we cannot possibly meet.

  1. Addressed to the Secretary of the Treasury (Morgenthau), the Assistant Secretary of State (Clayton), and the Commanding General, Army Service Forces (Somervell).
  2. Sidney H. Scheuer, Executive Director for Supplies of the Bureau of Supplies, FEA.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Inter-Agency Committee on Foreign Shipments.