The French Ambassador (Bérenger) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: My predecessors repeatedly had occasion to discuss with Your Excellency the commercial relations between France and Haiti.

Thus, on November 5, 1924, Mr. Jusserand drew your predecessor’s attention to the awkward features that would appear for French interest in a revision of the Haitian customs tariff.11 Again, in a note dated May 27, 1925, Mr. Daeschner sent Your Excellency a communication on the same subject.11 My Government now informs me that the Secretary of State for Foreign Relations of Haiti has informed the Minister of France at Port-au-Prince of his Government’s intention not to extend beyond the 27th of July next the operation of the convention of commerce between France and Haiti of 1907, and added that he was ready to negotiate another agreement.

This unexpected notice of termination caused my Government all the more surprise, as it is inconsistent with the assurances now given to the French representative at Port-au-Prince by the Haitian Government. That Government had even gone so far as to express a hope that the present agreement would be strengthened. Furthermore, it seems to be conflicting with the assurances that the Secretary [Page 408] of State of the United States had given to Mr. Jusserand on August 11, 1916,12 which were again brought to Your Excellency’s mind by my predecessor on September 30, 1925,13 and were stated in the following sentence:

“The Financial Advisor of the Republic of Haiti has been directed, in the performance of his duties, to afford due consideration, in his advisory capacity, of such requests for the modification of present customs duties as may by him be regarded legitimate.”

A sudden change in the present condition of commercial relations between Haiti and France, therefore, seems to my Government to be in conflict with the assurances then given by the Government of the United States and confirmed by the letter sent on October 26, 1925, to the Embassy by Your Excellency.13 The French Government is ready to consider with the Haitian Government such modifications as it would be expedient to adopt in the agreement of 1907 to bring it up to date. But it would seem desirable, in the interest of both countries, that the basis be maintained. As a matter of fact, as my predecessor noted in his above-mentioned note, France not only buys 66 percent of the exports from Haiti, but also 75 percent of the exported coffee and the export tax on that staple alone supplies more than one-third of the revenues of the Haitian Republic.

Desirous as it is and may be to meet the desire of the Haitian Government that the present condition of commercial relations between France and Haiti be changed, my Government believes that such a modification should not take place without going through previous negotiations. That is the reason why, in view of all the foregoing considerations, I should be very thankful to Your Excellency if you would kindly draw to that question the most earnest attention of the American Financial Adviser at Port-au-Prince and send him such instructions as you may deem necessary to let the present status quo stand during the negotiations if any are had.

Be pleased [etc.]

Henry Bérenger
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  3. Foreign Relations, 1916, p. 387.
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  5. Not printed.