The Ambassador in Ecuador ( Simmons ) to the Secretary of State

No. 134

Sir: I have the honor to report to the Department that, during the course of a conversation which I had yesterday with Dr. Antonio Parra Velasco, Ecuadoran Foreign Minister, Dr. Parra took occasion to advance his criticism of certain aspects of our basic international commercial policies.

He said that he was puzzled by what he considered as a contradiction between two lines of commercial policy which we seemed to be following at the present time. The first of these he described as expressed by our strong position, taken at the Habana Conference,1 in advancing greater freedom of international trade. He cited our strong pleas for the reduction or removal of many trade controls and barriers which now exist, and described our position as one seeking the ultimate goal of international free trade, particularly as regards the removal of controls such as now exist.

In contrast with this open-door policy, he raised the question of the Marshall Plan.2 Here, he said, we are seeking to divert trade from its normal channels, on a large scale, and are trying to impose many new restrictions, in addition to the vast and complicated forms of control which now exist in regard to the foreign trade of most countries of the world.

He said that he found it hard to understand just what the trend of our foreign trade policy was, citing this apparent contradiction as the basic cause of his lack of understanding in this respect. As the conversation proceeded it became increasingly clear that, as regards foreign trade, it was our position in Habana which seemed to disturb him in particular. At this point he brought up his oft repeated theme of a closer form of commercial collaboration between Latin American countries, and advanced once more his strong advocacy of some form [Page 581] of regional agreement between Latin American countries, to which obviously the United States would not be a party.

I explained to Dr. Parra that there seemed to me no basic contradiction in the two attitudes of our government which he described. I showed that our foreign trade policy had been consistent during recent years in its advocacy of removal of restrictions on foreign trade in order to assure a larger and freer flow of goods between various nations. I spoke in particular of our various trade agreements, stressing their multilateral character. I said that the European Recovery Program naturally presents another problem having a direct bearing on, our economic relations with Latin America but that the measures we were taking were of an emergency character and, also, that the proposals now being made to the United States Congress contemplate the use of substantial funds for purchases outside the United States of commodities not readily available in sufficient quantities there.

Dr. Parra, who is very positive and definite in his views, insisted that he still believed our policy to be contradictory and, towards the close of our conversation, he used the words “poco seria” in describing it.

I believe that the above statement of Dr. Parra’s views will be of interest to the Department in connection with forthcoming discussions in the Bogotá Conference.3 I feel sure that, in case the Department should see fit to give its own observations on Dr. Parra’s views, it might be of interest in any further discussions which I may have with him.

Respectfully yours,

John F. Simmons
  1. For documentation on this subject, see volume i .
  2. For documentation on this subject, see volume iii .
  3. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 1 ff.