The Acting Secretary of State to the Argentine Chargé d’Affaires.

No. 124.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of March 6, 1911, requesting, on behalf of your Government to know [etc.].

In reply, I have the honor to inform you that the uniform position of the Government of the United States for a century past in relation to this matter has been that the most-favored-nation clause respecting the tariff treatment of imports or exports does not apply to privileges which have been conceded by one contracting party to a third country in exchange for valuable and equivalent concessions. It is held by the United States that this clause is intended to prevent the willful preference by one contracting party of the commercial interests of third countries to the detriment of the other contracting party; but it does not require the extension, automatically and gratuitously, between contracting parties to a treaty containing the clause, of the privileges which either has granted to a third country in exchange for reciprocal and equivalent concessions. Under the interpretation invariably placed upon these clauses by the Government of the United States the quality of tariff treatment under the clause means identity of treatment under similar circumstances. For example, the Department of State in an instruction in 1884 to the American minister to Japan approved the position then taken by the Japanese Government to the effect that “if a favor for a specific condition be stipulated with any one nation, no other may enjoy the favor except upon identical or equivalent conditions.”

The foregoing is a concise statement of the position of the United States in this matter. For the fuller information of your Government, however, the Department is glad to inform you that its tariff officers have been directed to compile a careful memorandum of the precedents in the diplomatic correspondence of the United States. I shall take pleasure in transmitting to you a copy of this statement as soon as completed.1

Accept, etc.,

Huntington Wilson.
  1. See Senate Document 29, 62d Cong., 1st sess.