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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1937. The British Commonwealth, Europe, Near East and Africa

Norway,   pp. 517-524 PDF (2.7 MB)

Page 521

  Dr. Koht said that, of course, the Norwegian Government had been
primarily interested in the possibility of a trade agreement from the
point of view of a possible concession on whale oil, and that the Nor-
wegian Government had been particularly interested in the possibility
of securing the removal of the excise tax on whale oil by Congres-
sional action. He expressed his disappointment that this had not
proved to be possible.
  Mr. Sayre said that the attitude of this Government with regard
to the excise tax on whale oil was well known to the Norwegian Gov-
ernment and that the Department of State had exerted itself to the
utmost to secure the removal of the tax. Since this has proved to
be impossible, this Government shares the disappointment of the
Norwegian Government. Mr. Sayre then stated that it might be pos-
sible for this Government to reduce the duty and tax on whale oil
in a trade agreement to an extent which would tend to bring that
commodity into a more favorable competitive position with the prin-
cipal foreign fats and oils, such as palm oil and tallow. Mr. Sayre
referred to the fact that the tax on palm oil now amounts to 3¢ per
pound, the duty and tax on tallow amount to 3.50 per pound, while
the duty and tax on whale oil amount to 3.8¢ per pound.
  Dr. Koht said that his Government was aware of the efforts that
had been made by the Department of State to have the excise tax on
whale oil repealed and that these efforts were appreciated. He went
on to say that the effects of any reduction on whale oil in terms of the
competitive position of that commodity with other foreign fats and
oils depended to a large extent upon the price relationships between
these fats and oils and, indeed, of all fats and oils generally.
  Mr. Sayre pointed out that while, of course, this is true to a certain
extent, nevertheless it may be considered that palm oil and tallow are
the principal competitors of whale oil for use in making soap. He
went on to say that in considering a possible reduction on whale oil
in a trade agreement, consideration might be given to the fact that
whale oil is subject to the hydrogenation process which, of course, in-
creases the cost of that commodity.
  Dr. Koht then stated that he believed that there were no commodi-
ties of which the United States is the principal supplier to Norway.
He stated that in the past the United States had been the principal
supplier of automobiles, but that importations of American-make
automobiles from assembly plants in Denmark far exceeded importa-
tions of automobiles from the United States. He suggested for pos-
sible future consideration the possibility of establishing assembly
plants in Norway for American-make cars.
  At this point, Mr. Sayre referred to certain political aspects and
implications of the American trade agreements program. He stated
that in his opinion there may be considered to be two conflicting eco-
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