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including educational, medical, and philanthropic institutions maintained by them, as well as to importations of clothing, foodstuffs, and professional equipment by the American personnel thereof.
These missionary organizations provide educational and medical facilities which would not otherwise be available to the communities they serve unless their entire cost were borne by governmental agencies. As is well known, these organizations derive their support from voluntary contributions of materials and funds made by interested persons in the United States. In view of these circumstances it is considered that the use of such funds for the payment of customs duties in countries for the benefit of whose peoples they are contributed is not in consonance with the purpose for which these funds are donated and results in their diversion from the philanthropic enterprises they are intended to foster. By making substantial contributions to the education and medical care of the people of India, the American people are rendering material assistance to the Government of India in meeting these social problems. It does not appear to be inopportune, therefore, to inquire as to the extent to which that Government may be willing to cooperate in facilitating the conduct of this philanthropic work through customs-duty exemptions.
It is desired that you discuss the matter with the appropriate authorities in order to ascertain their reactions, stating that you are acting upon specific instructions to do so and emphasizing the fact that the Department attaches considerable importance to the question involved. A report of your discussions, together with your comments, should be submitted promptly to the Department.
For your information and assistance there follows a brief discussion of the nature and extent of free-entry privileges accorded by certain countries to missionary organizations engaged in philanthropic enterprises:
Egypt—The Government of Egypt grants free entry to supplies, except building materials, imported by religious, educational, and charitable institutions, and to importations by clergymen and missionaries of clothing and provisions not exceeding a total value per person of twenty Egyptian Pounds a year.
Iran-Under a procedure involving theoretical refunds from "Government Credit”, the Iranian Government in actual practice exempts from payment of customs duties official supplies imported by American and British hospitals and schools within rather liberal valuation limits.
Liberia—The Government of Liberia permits duty-free importations not exceeding a total annual value per person of $150 of goods for the personal use and consumption
of "all persons regularly employed as Missionaries, Professors, Tutors and Instructors engaged by and giving full time service in Missionary and Philanthropic Institutions within the Republic and who are actually engaged in educational and/or medical work”.
Palestine—The Government of Palestine provides in general, with certain minor exceptions, for free entry for supplies and equipment imported for places of worship, schools and institutions maintained by religious communities, hospitals, asylums, and dispensaries operated by charitable societies, as well as for importations of clothing, furniture, and devotional objects by “persons leading the religious life”.
Syria—Upon the basis of an exchange of notes between the Governments of the United States and of France, the Government of Syria grants unlimited free entry to "articles intended to be used in conducting religious worship” and restricted free entry within fixed annual valuation limits to importations of a wide variety of enumerated supplies imported “by religious communities and evangelical missions for the support of their members”, as well as by schools, colleges, hospitals, dispensaries, and orphanages. Duty-free importations by educational, medical, and similar institutions are based upon annual valuation allotments per pupil or inmate, colleges and universities receiving substantially larger allotments than primary and secondary schools.
A similar instruction has been sent to Rangoon.
For the Secretary of State:
A. A. BERLE, JR.
The Consul at Rangoon (Brady) to the Secretary of State No. 446
RANGOON, May 19, 1941.
[Received June 5.] SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department's instruction of March 24, 1941,49 transmitting a copy of a letter dated March 12, 1941, and an enclosure thereto, from the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, concerning the desire of that Society that shipments of certain types of medical and educational supplies made to its representatives in India and Burma be exempted from import control restrictive measures and prohibitions in view of the fact that they are financed by American funds. The Department instructed me to ascertain from the appropriate local authorities what exemptions might be made with respect to importations by all American missionary organizations in Burma of supplies of the character stated, and it pointed out that the list of articles submitted by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society as an enclosure to its letter might be regarded as illustrative and not as a complete list of the articles the Society desired to import.
* February 18, 1937; see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 107, or 51 Stat. 279.
" See footnote 45, p. 201.
In reply I have to report that on the receipt of the Department's instruction I personally interviewed the Controller and the Deputy Controller of Supplies in Burma in regard to the question of exempting from control restrictions the types of medical and educational supplies shipped to American missions and mission schools in Burma by missionary organizations in the United States, and financed entirely by American funds, and later I confirmed the statements made to them in a letter to the Controller of Supplies, to which I attached a copy of the list submitted by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, as illustrative of the types of materials that have been shipped to Burma. Under date of May 5, 1941, I received a letter from the Deputy Controller of Supplies enclosing an order which he informed me was being issued by the Import Trade Controller, and concerning which he said:
"It is hoped that this order will enable free supplies of medical and educational requisites to be continued without hindrance and I am to suggest that you will be so good as to request the American Baptist Mission Society in Rangoon to communicate with the Import Trade Controller on this matter."
The order enclosed with the Deputy Controller's letter reads as follows:
“The American Baptist Mission Press are hereby permitted to import without license until further notice the undernoted articles of United States of America origin, provided they certify on the bill of entry that the articles, including cost of freight, duty and shipping charges, are being supplied as free gifts by the Baptist church in the United States of America for free distribution to American Baptist Missions in Burma."
As the order refers only to the American Baptist organization and specifies only the articles listed by it as illustrative of the types of materials shipped to Burma, I again took up with the Deputy Controller the question of the exemption applying to shipments made by other American missionary organizations to their missions in Burma, and to materials of the types mentioned which might not be found in the list submitted, and he has assured me that the exemption granted will apply to any shipments of the same character made by other American missionary organizations having missions in Burma, and that medical and educational supplies furnished as free gifts for free distribution will not be arbitrarily restricted to those included in the list in question.
The American Baptist Mission Press, which is the organization in Burma which receives and distributes supplies shipped from the United States by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, is in possession of a copy of the order issued by the Import Trade
Controller, and the Acting Mission Treasurer and Attorney has
AUSTIN C. BRADY
The Consul General at Calcutta (Wilson) to the Secretary of State No. 258
CALCUTTA, July 2, 1941.
[Received July 25.] Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department's airmail instruction of March 24, 1941 (File No. 645C.116/1 [645.116/48]) instructing this Consulate General to request the Government of India to relax its current import restrictions in favor of shipments of supplies to American missionary societies and philanthropic institutions in India.
This request has now been granted. A copy of the communication to this effect just received from the Government of India is enclosed.
It is requested that the Department take steps to inform the appropriate American organizations of this change in procedure, as this Consulate General is not in a position to determine which of the local establishments may be eligible for the benefits accruing under the new ruling. Respectfully yours,
T. M. WILSON
The Under Secretary to the Government of India (Pringle) to the
American Consul General at Calcutta (Wilson)
No. 350 (44)-(I. T. C.)/41
SIMLA, 25 June, 1941. Sir: With reference to your letter No. 660 dated the 7th May 1941,50 I am directed to say that, having regard to the special circumstances of the case, the Government of India have been pleased to sanction the issue of special licences for such goods as may be imported by American Missionary Societies, and philanthropic institutions, and are free gifts from the United States of America and which, therefore, involve no transfer of foreign exchange. The licences will accordingly be marked "Custom Licence: Not valid for transfer of foreign exchange".
50 Not printed.
2. Necessary instructions are being issued to the Import Trade Controllers and the organizations in question may be instructed to apply for the licences, when required, to the Import Trade Controller concerned giving full details (e. g. description, value, etc.) of each importation. I have [etc.]
R. J. PRINGLE
The Consul at Rangoon (Brady) to the Secretary of State
RANGOON, July 15, 1941.
[Received July 30.] SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department's instruction of May 5, 1941,51 in regard to the Department's desire to ascertain the attitude of the Government of Burma toward granting free entry to importations of equipment and supplies to American missionary organizations, including educational, medical, and philanthropic institutions maintained by them, as well as to importations of clothing, foodstuffs, and professional equipment by the American personnel thereof.
In reply I have to report that, in compliance with the Department's instruction, I have discussed this matter with the appropriate authorities of the Government of Burma in order to ascertain their reactions. These have included the Financial Commissioner of Burma, who is an adviser to the Ministry in matters affecting Government finances and revenue; with the Minister of Commerce and Industry, whose department includes customs administration; with the Minister of Lands and Revenue, who was formerly in charge of customs administration; and with the Governor of Burma. It is my opinion, as a result of these discussions, that there is a possibility of some concessions being granted, but only a possibility. I have to explain, however, that the matter would have to be placed before the Government of Burma in a formal manner, for examination and consideration, before there could be anything of a definite nature, and I should like to have the Department's authorization to do this, by cable if there is no objection.52 I feel that nothing would be lost by carrying the matter to a decision, and something might be gained.
[Here follows discussion of attitude of several Burmese officials.] Respectfully yours,
AUSTIN C. BRADY
See footnote 47, p. 202. 5* No further correspondence on this subject has been found in Department files.