Current Economic Developments, Lot 70 D 467

Current Economic Developments

[Extract] secret

No. 199

Manganese Supply Position Continues To Be Serious

The current US manganese position continues to be a cause for concern. (See page 6, October 28, 1948 issue of Current Economic Developments.1) Shipments from the USSR have been negligible since February 8, 1949, a fact which tends to confirm the rumor current earlier in the year that shipments from the USSR during 1949 would [Page 106] be limited to 50,000 tons. If substantiated, this will be very serious but not disastrous to the US manganese position. The new supply of manganese during 1949, more than 90% of which will come from imports, is estimated at 1.4 million long tons against an industrial requirement of approximately 1.6 million tons. Industry stocks, although considered too low, can probably make up the deficit. Strategic stockpiling during 1949 remains a problem and it appears that such additions as may be made will in effect come out of industrial stocks.

Interdepartmental Manganese Coordination Committee Reflecting the seriousness of this situation, the National Security Resources Board, in consultation with the Department and other government agencies, issued on March 7, 1949 a directive setting up the Interdepartmental Manganese Coordination Committee.2 This committee is designed to be a focal point for the formulation of a coordinated government program on manganese for all purposes—for current industrial needs as well as for the stockpile. The Director of the Bureau of Mines3 was named chairman. Other agency members are the Department of State4 and Commerce, Economic Cooperation Administration, Munitions Board, and Bureau of Federal Supply (Treasury), with an NSRB representative as observer.

The committee has adopted as this government’s position regarding supplies from the USSR a statement submitted by the Department which, in essence, recommends that no attempt be made to reestablish shipments from the USSR by quid pro quo negotiations and that the committee draw up its program on the assumption that supplies from the USSR will be drastically curtailed. The statement recognizes the possibility but does not rely on it that such a position may, in fact, be an effective method for reestablishing those shipments.

The committee plans to follow up the programs which had already been started in the Union of South Africa, the Gold Coast, and India for increasing shipments from those areas and to assist wherever possible in the development of large Brazilian deposits. In the Union of South Africa, the Gold Coast, and India, rapid increase in shipments is expected. The program in Brazil is necessarily a long-range one of development.

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  1. Not printed. Previous documentation on the concern of the United States over the difficulty of obtaining manganese ore from the Soviet Union is presented in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. iv, pp. 489 ff.
  2. NSRB Document 103, revised March 7, 1949, entitled “Tentative Charter for an Interdepartmental Manganese Coordination Committee,” was transmitted to the Secretary of State under cover of a letter of March 7 from John R. Steelman, Acting Chairman of the National Security Resources Board, neither printed (811.6359/3–749).
  3. James Boyd.
  4. Edwin M. Martin, Deputy Director of the Office of International Trade Policy, was designated to represent the Department of State.