560.AL/1–446: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State


94. For Wilcox2 and Brown3 from Hawkins4 and Fowler.5 We have discussed at some length with Liesching,6 Helmore,7 Stirling8 and Shackle9 questions relating to the preliminary trade meeting10 as follows: [Page 1264]

Location for meeting. Liesching said the British Govt is definitely agreeable to holding the meeting in England provided a suitable place for it can be found. He and his staff are actively exploring the possibilities and have already made preliminary investigations. Oxford seems to be a definite possibility although some difficulties have been encountered which would have to be worked out. The facilities there probably would not be available before the first of July. The catering problem also presents difficulties. They are also investigating the possibilities of taking over a hotel or hotels in one of the evacuated south coast towns, which may offer a possibility in cases in which hotel property has not been restored to the owners. They appreciate the importance of deciding upon a place as soon as practicable and we expect to hear more from them shortly on the subject.
Liesching and his staff also had questions regarding the exact procedure to be followed before and at the meeting in the formulation of tariff schedules. In the course of the discussion the point was made that if we rely on each country presenting prior to or at the opening of the meeting a schedule of offers it will make to the other participants, we may meet with disappointment either because of the reluctance of countries to make any offers at all until they have some idea or at least have studied the possibilities of what they might get; or, if offers were made, they might be so unsatisfactory as to get the meeting off to a very bad start. The most common procedure in trade negotiations is for the parties to present their requests and it would be difficult to get many of them, particularly the continental countries, to understand and adopt the opposite procedure. In other words, if the initial step by each country were to submit to all the others a list of the concessions sought from them, prompt action is much more likely to be forthcoming, and each country would then be in a better position and more disposed at least to attempt to formulate a list of worthwhile offers for presentation when the meeting convenes. Also if all participating countries were asked to present request lists as soon as possible after the acceptance of the invitation to participate in the meeting, each country in formulating its offers for presentation at the meeting could do so with better knowledge of the expectations and needs of the others. This should not preclude any country that desired to do so from presenting a consolidated list of offers at the time it submits its request lists. We feel that in view of our key role in trade matters it would be highly desirable for the U.S. to do this, provided of course our offers are sufficiently attractive to make it clear that the negotiations are going to be worthwhile.
There are some indications that there may be a serious lack of understanding and hesitancy regarding our trade proposals and participation [Page 1265] in the meeting on the part of some of the continental countries. This possibility is suggested by the attitude of Dr. Kunosi, Assistant Director of the Economic Dept of the Czechoslovakian FonOff, who recently called on Stirling and expressed doubt and skepticism. Kunosi even intimated that acceptance by the British of these proposals may to some extent have been forced upon them in connection with the financial negotiations,11 and conjectured that our trade proposals may represent only a scheme by the U.S. to capture world market. Stirling immediately sought to set him straight on these points and suggested that he see us, which he did yesterday. We explained the proposals to him and offered to discuss them further at any time with the Czechoslovakian Commercial Counselor here. In view of the foregoing we consider it extremely important that arrangements be made for someone from Washington or from here to discuss the proposals and the arrangements for implementing them fully with the appropriate officials of the various continental countries concerned. This should be done promptly in order to prevent first misconceptions and prejudices from becoming solidified. It might also speed up acceptances that have not been forthcoming and help to facilitate preparations for the meeting in those cases where acceptances have already been received. We had considered in Washington the desirability of calling a meeting in London of our economic counselors on the continent with the idea of explaining these matters fully to them so that they in turn could explain them to the Govts to which they are accredited. However, it would be much quicker and more effective if someone thoroughly familiar with the proposals, accompanied by the appropriate economic counselor, were to go into them fully with officials at least of the countries invited to attend the preliminary meeting. It would be desirable before doing so to have a definite understanding on the procedural steps referred to in paragraph 2 above.

The British have offered to cooperate fully in supporting our position in any way we think may be useful. We suggested and they agreed that a joint approach would not be desirable in view of the appearance of ganging up, but whoever carries on the discussions for us in the various capitals should keep the British economic representatives informed so that corroboration could be provided as need arose and occasion afforded and Liesching said that if you act on the above suggestion, British representatives would be appropriately [Page 1266] briefed and instructed to cooperate. In any case he thought it desirable to brief them and to cover particularly the point that our proposals were agreed to wholeheartedly by the British Govt and not under pressure in connection with the loan negotiations. [Hawkins and Fowler.]

  1. Clair Wilcox, Director of the Office of International Trade Policy.
  2. Winthrop G. Brown, Chief of the Division of Commercial Policy.
  3. Harry C. Hawkins, Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs, United States Embassy, London.
  4. William A. Fowler, First Secretary of Embassy, United States Embassy, London.
  5. Sir Percival Liesching, Second Secretary, British Board of Trade, until July, 1946 when he became Permanent Secretary to the British Ministry of Food.
  6. James R. C. Helmore, Under Secretary of Commercial Relations and Treaties Department, British Board of Trade, until July, 1946 when he succeeded Sir Percival Liesching as Second Secretary, Board of Trade.
  7. John A. Stirling, Assistant Secretary, British Board of Trade.
  8. R. J. Shackle, Principal Assistant Secretary, British Board of Trade.
  9. The United States Government published on December 6, 1945 a document entitled “Proposals for Expansion of World Trade and Employment”, copies of which were transmitted on a world-wide basis to other governments (with certain limited exceptions) for their consideration. The Proposals set forth the views and objectives of this Government within the sphere of international economic relations and proposed that the United Nations convene in 1946 a conference to consider early and effective cooperative action on an international basis in the fields of trade and employment. For text of the Proposals, see Department of State Bulletin, December 9, 1945, p. 918.

    At the same time invitations were issued by the United States Government to fifteen governments, considered to represent the principal trading nations of the world, to appoint representatives to attend a preliminary meeting in early 1946 at a place to be determined. Such a preliminary conference would negotiate, for the consideration of the proposed general conference, concrete arrangements for the relaxation of tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers. The preliminary meeting would also consult to reach a preliminary understanding with regard to other topics on the proposed agenda for the projected general conference (i.e., questions of employment, policy regarding surplus commodities, cartel policy, and an international trade organization).

    For documentation regarding these events, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, pp. 1328 ff. For the text of the invitation issued to the fifteen governments, see ibid., p. 1344.

  10. For documentation regarding the financial negotiations between the United States and the United Kingdom in 1945 leading to the Loan Agreement of December 6, 1945, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. vi, pp. 1 ff. For a scholarly study of American-British joint efforts in the field of international economic relations in the late World War II and early postwar periods, see Richard N. Gardner, Sterling-Dollar Diplomacy (Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1956).