In view of the many inquiries that are being asked from time to time with respect to trade with Ethiopia and Italy, I deem it proper again to call attention to the statement by the President on October 5 that he desired it "to be understood that any of our people who voluntarily engage in transactions of any character with either of the belligerents do so at their own risk."
On October 10 I explained that the President's statement was based primarily upon the policy and purpose of keeping this country out of war, and that "it certainly was not intended to encourage transactions with the belligerents." I further explained that "our people might well realize that the universal state of business uncertainty and suspense on account of the war is seriously handicapping business between all countries, and that the sooner the war is terminated the sooner the restoration and stabilization of business in all parts of the world, which is infinitely more important than trade with the belligerents, will be brought about." The President, in a statement on October 30, further emphasized the spirit of this policy.
The American people are entitled to know that there are certain commodities such as oil, copper, trucks, tractors, scrap iron, and scrap steel which are essential war materials, although not actually "arms, ammunition, or implements of war", and that according to recent Government trade reports a considerably increased amount of these is being exported for war purposes. This class of trade is directly contrary to the policy of this Government as announced in official statements of the President and Secretary of State, as it is also contrary to the general spirit of the recent neutrality act.
The administration is closely observing the trend and volume of exports to those countries, and within a few days the Department of Commerce expects to have complete detailed lists of all commodities exported to the belligerents which will enable exact comparison with lists for the same period last year.
Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943, p. 293
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