711.922/37

The Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, Department of State ( MacMurray ), to the Under Secretary of State ( Fletcher )

Dear Mr. Fletcher: Tentative negotiations were begun as far back as 1910 for a new treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the United States and Siam but no real progress was made until [Page 878] 1915 and 1916 when the negotiations reached a stage where it seemed likely that they would be brought to an early conclusion. The European War, however, suddenly brought an end to the negotiations and they were not renewed until the Peace Conference at Paris, where preliminary Conferences were held between American officials there and the Siamese Delegates to the Peace Conference. Active negotiations were renewed at Washington on the return to this city from Paris of the Siamese Minister and Mr. Eldon R. James, the American Adviser on Foreign Affairs to the Siamese Government. These negotiations extended over a period of several months and were finally concluded and the treaty signed on December 15 [16], 1920, the Senate having received it on December 23, 1920, where it is still pending. Unless some action is taken by the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate within a reasonable time the Department, if it may do so with propriety, should take some steps to have the treaty ratified.

The treaty follows in principle the usual lines of our treaties of commerce and navigation, but there are several important stipulations on which the Committee which has the treaty under consideration may desire information.

(1)
Extraterritorial jurisdiction in Siam is abolished, but the right of evocation in all legal proceedings for a period of five years is preserved. A revision of the Siamese Codes has been going on for a number of years and the administration of Justice by the Siamese Courts is now such that this Government, in recognition of these and other reforms introduced by the Siamese Government, felt fully justified in surrendering its extraterritorial rights under the conditions named in the treaty. The British Government surrendered such rights in its treaty of 1909 and the French are apparently now on the eve of so doing.
(2)
Full fiscal autonomy is also granted to Siam. It seemed desirable to remove such restrictions as existed in this respect, as the fiscal affairs of the Siamese Government are now on a sound basis and are administered without discrimination.
(3)
All favored nation clauses are omitted from the treaty. This became necessary at the last moment as they seemed to grant rights and privileges which were inconsistent with the Jones Shipping Act.
(4)
An exchange of notes between the Governments of the United States and Siam took place on the date on which the treaty was signed quieting the title to certain missionary properties owned by Americans in Siam.
[Page 879]

Copies of the treaty, jurisdiction protocol and the exchange of notes are attached, with other papers bearing on the matter.5

MacM[urray]
  1. Annexes not printed.