No. 83 NAI DFA ES Box 32 File 228

Letter from Patrick McCartan to Mr. Weinstein (Moscow)


13 May 1921

Dear Comrade Weinstein,
It occurred to me after leaving you today that perhaps I could spend the next few weeks discussing the possibility of direct trade between the Republic of Ireland and Russia and I take the liberty to put a few stray thoughts on the subject in writing so that you may send them to the department that deals with such business.

It seems to me that as you have signed a trade agreement with England it would be possible to do business immediately with Ireland in accordance with terms of the English agreement. As far as Ireland is concerned we shall be glad to take advantage of any such opportunities as may be afforded us so long as we do not therefore sacrifice our political status or violate any of our principles. I assume that you would prefer Irish products to English if we can give you as good value and that in turn you prefer to sell your raw material direct to Irish manufacturers rather than through English middlemen. The only obstacle therefore to immediate trade is 'credits' as I think the term is in commercial language. What I mean however is that an Irish Manufacturer would want a guarantee from a reliable bank that he would be paid on delivery of his goods. In the case of dealing with an English manufacturer I presume that would mean the shipment of gold from Russia to some bank in England. This would be unnecessary in the case of Ireland.

I have no authority to definitely promise such but I feel almost certain that the Government of the Republic of Ireland would undertake to guarantee an Irish bank against danger of loss and that bank in turn would guarantee and pay the Irish manufacturer. In return we could take flax, hemp, bristles, furs, hides and perhaps other things. If that would not be feasible I think I can suggest another way out. Of course I need not tell you our Government has not unlimited resources and that therefore an exchange in some form would be necessary.

If I knew the products you require I could tell you what we could supply. However I presume you want:

  1. Farming Implements
  2. Shoes
  3. Tractors
  4. and perhaps tweeds
  5. Herring and Mackerel
  6. Bacon and Hams
  7. Evaporated milk
  8. Bicycles
  9. Ropes.

Though we import farming implements from the United States we also export them to the Argentine Republic. We also import shoes from the United States but export them to England. Ford of Detroit U.S.A. has a plant in Cork which manufactures tractors. We export tweeds but not in large quantities. We manufacture material called frieze suitable for overcoats which cannot be excelled. It would suit the climate here I know. I have an overcoat of it myself which was made in 1917 and can show it as a sample as I have it here. I am certain this material would be very valuable for army coats as it will stand any amount of rough handling. We export herring and mackerel to the United States. We can sell the herring there without supplying samples but our mackerel is not so well cured though the improvement is marked in recent years. Our bacon and hams cannot be surpassed. They are probably too good and too expensive for Russia at present when you want essentials rather than luxuries. We have only one factory for making evaporated milk but I don't think it has yet been burned down by our civilizers. It would however be suitable for hospitals and children in the cities as all that is necessary is to restore the water which was extracted in the factory. We have two factories for making bicycles. Both turn out reliable machines but I think they do not manufacture cheap machines such as can be secured in England. The Rope factory is in Belfast and is the largest of its kind in the world.

I can assure you that unlike some of the products you have received elsewhere you will get them exactly like the samples submitted if it decided to deal directly with Ireland.

As to transport I feel certain we could arrange with Moore and McCormack of New York to have their boats which call at Cork, Dublin and Belfast to take cargoes direct from Ireland to Petrograd if there are obstacles in the way of sending your own boats. Swedish shipping companies would I am sure also undertake the work.

As the result of the presence of an Irish Consul in New York we have established direct trade with the United States and as a consequence our commerce with America is steadily increasing. There is no reason why the same might not take place in the case of Russia. I wish to emphasise the point that I believe that business might be started right away so that you would be in a position to take advantage of your ice-free ports.

If these suggestions get favourable consideration I suggest that you immediately send an agent - a trade commissioner or purchasing agent - to Ireland. I can give him a letter to our Minister of Trade and Commerce and another to the Secretary of the Cork Industrial organisation.

For the purpose of developing Irish Commerce our Government organised an Export and Import Company. I am not certain whether or not it has been allowed to function but if you could not deal with that Company entirely our Minister of Commerce will put you in direct touch with the manufacturers. Our object in organising this company was to cut out the English middlemen and have goods for Ireland delivered in Irish ports and not in English as heretofore. The profits - if any - of this company go to the Government. It was organised for trade though rather than profits. England's policy has been to isolate Ireland so that she could buy our products at her own price and keep the Irish market for herself. Our policy is to defeat that and we made a beginning in having the Moore and MacCormack boats call at Irish ports.

I may point out that the new American passenger liners were also about to call at the Cove of Cork and the British Admiralty through sheer jealousy closed the port to all East-bound steamers. That however is only temporary.

If you consider these suggestions of any importance to Russia I hope you will be kind enough to bring the matter with a recommendation from your Department to your Department of Commerce. If advisable I shall be glad to discuss the matter more fully at the earliest possible moment.

Yours very sincerely
Patrick McCartan
Envoy of the Republic of Ireland

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