FW 611.0031/4–246

The Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions Located in Washington1


The Government of the United States recognizes the services performed by the several purchasing missions which were established in this country by other Governments during the war emergency. These services have encompassed among others the expediting of shipments, the handling of lend-lease transactions, the screening of requirements, and the direct procurement of essential supplies. However, the war having come to a victorious conclusion, it now becomes necessary to set forth the policy of this Government with reference to the continuance of these wartime agencies.

This Government favors the use of private channels in international trade as most consistent with the principles of liberal trade policy. At the same time it is recognized that the prompt conversion of the economies of the world, stabilization of prices, and equitable distribution of available supplies may make necessary the continuation of government participation in trade during the transition from war to peace. In such cases, it is the policy of this Government that state trading [Page 1262] agencies should conduct their trade in accordance with usual commercial considerations.

With this in view it is the desire of this Government that existing foreign purchasing missions in the United States limit their operations during the transition period to the procurement of those commodities which are necessary to meet essential civilian requirements for relief and rehabilitation. Also it is this Government’s position that purchasing missions should use normal trade channels to the maximum extent practicable and that their purchasing methods should be consistent with commercial considerations.

Finally, as the transition period draws to a close and the emergency need ceases to exist the United States Government believes that these wartime missions should be disestablished.2

  1. Australia, Belgium, China, Greece, India, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Union of South Africa, and the United Kingdom. A somewhat similar aide-mémoire was transmitted to the Soviet Union, which took account of its traditional pre-war trading pattern. In the case of France, the substance of the policy was discussed with French representatives during the financial and economic negotiations which took place in Washington during April and May. No record has been found of the communication to Poland, but there is a record of conversations with its representatives.
  2. Some weeks later the Department of State engaged in conversations with representatives of the fifteen nations having purchasing missions in this country in which it reiterated its position as to the desirabilty of returning international trade to private channels in conformity with the principles of a liberal trade policy. At the same time the Department recognized that certain adjustments would have to be made during the transitional period. In conversations with representatives from the British Embassy, the Department accepted points made in the British gloss on the aide-mémoire, and concurred in the necessity of foreign government procurement activity with respect both to purchases for government account and for commodities that were in short supply and subject to international allocation. The Department also agreed that the purchasing missions might be used during the transition period to expedite shipping and transactions between private traders in this and other countries.

    There was general agreement with the United States position, except on the part of the Chinese, Indian, Polish and Soviet representatives. A detailed summary of these conversations may be found in the Department’s classified bulletin “Current Economic Developments” No. 50, June 3, 1946.