Mr. Day to Mr. Pioda.

No. 179.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 29th ultimo, in which, in conformity with the instructions of your Government, you ask that the concessions stipulated for in the reciprocity agreement between the United States and France of May 28, 1898, be extended to importations from Switzerland. You state that your Government would consider a refusal of this request as a violation of the treaty between the United States and the Swiss Confederation of November 25, 1850, and especially of Articles VIII, IX, X, and XII thereof. You observe that the most-favored-nation clause, which is contained in these articles, is “absolutely unlimited.”

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The Department has noticed with some surprise the positiveness of the terms in which the demand of your Government is put forward.

Whatever may be the views of any other government on the subject, the Government of the United States has consistently maintained the view that the most-favored-nation clause does not entitle a third government to demand the benefits of a special agreement of reciprocity.

The articles of the treaty of 1850, which you designate in your note, merely embody an agreement for the most-favored-nation treatment.

  • Article VIII provides that in all that relates to “the importation, exportation, and transit of their respective products the contracting parties shall treat each other, reciprocally, as the most favored nation, union of nations, state, or society, as is explained in the following articles,” namely, Articles IX, X, XI, XII.
  • Article IX stipulates that neither of the contracting parties “shall impose any higher or other duties upon the importation, exportation, or transit of the natural or industrial products of the other than are or shall be payable upon the like article being the product of any other country.”
  • Article X provides that neither of the contracting parties shall “grant any favor in commerce to any nation, union of nations, state, or society which shall not immediately be enjoyed by the other party.”
  • Article XI reserves to each party the liberty to determine the manner of establishing the origin of its own products in case of the imposition of a differential duty.
  • Article XII contains various stipulations, none of them pertinent to the present subject of discussion.

The various provisions above set forth constitute, as the treaty itself declares, a guaranty of most-favored-nation treatment in matters of commerce.

It is and always has been the view of this Government that a reciprocity treaty is a bargain and not a favor, and that it therefore does not come within the scope of the most-favored-nation clause.

The position of the United States, as thus expressed, is not only well known, but has been frequently and generally conceded. It was accepted and carried out in the case of the reciprocity treaty between the United States and Great Britain of 1854 in relation to Canada; in the case of the reciprocity treaty with Hawaii of 1875, which was renewed in 1884, and in the case of the reciprocity agreements under the United States tariff act of October 1, 1890.

The Department, as at present advised, is not aware that the Government of Switzerland has on any previous occasion claimed the advantages accruing to the contracting parties under any of the reciprocity treaties of the United States.

On the grounds above set forth this Government is unable to admit that the demand put forward in your note is well founded, or that the refusal to concede it constitutes a violation of any of the treaty stipulations between the two Governments.

In conclusion I desire to add that, if the Government of Switzerland wishes to secure for itself the advantages impartially held out by the act of Congress under which the agreement with France of May 28, 1898, was concluded, the Department will be glad to enter into negotiations with you for the purpose of effecting a similar arrangement.

Accept, Mr. Minister, etc.,

William R. Day.