President Harding to the Secretary of State
My Dear Mr. Secretary: You wrote me under date of January 15th, relative to the policy to be followed in the negotiation of commercial treaties with newly established states, and the revision of long-standing treaties which have become obsolete or impracticable, because of changed conditions. You enclosed to me with your letter the communication of Mr. W. S. Culbertson, of the Tariff Commission, in which he commended, very impressively, the adoption of the unconditional clause in the most favored nation treatment in all our commercial relations. I have gone over your letter and the argument of Mr. Culbertson with some considerable deliberation, and I am pretty well persuaded that the negotiation of the unconditional provision is the wise course to pursue. I am wondering at the moment what this change of policy would effect in our relationship with Cuba, whose very existence seems more or less dependent upon a favoring provision in our tariff law. Our peculiar relation to Cuba apparently imposes something of an obligation, but I assume that if that favoring arrangement is going to disarrange the conditions of our entire foreign trade it would be better to cancel the Cuban provision. This relationship does not seem to be touched upon by either your letter or that of Mr. Culbertson and I may be [Page 129] attaching to it a greater importance than the situation actually justifies.
I am well convinced that the adoption of the unconditional favored nation policy is the simpler way to maintain our tariff policy in accordance with the recently enacted law and is probably the surer way of effectively extending our trade abroad. If you are strongly of this opinion you may proceed with your negotiations upon the unconditional policy. If this commitment is not sufficient I shall be glad to have you take up the matter with me in a personal interview.
Very truly yours,