The Acting Secretary of State to the French Chargé (Sartiges)

Sir: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of M. Bérenger’s note of May 6, 1926, in regard to commercial relations between France and Haiti. M. Bérenger stated that he had been informed that the Haitian Government had indicated to the French Government its intention [Page 409] not to extend the existing Franco-Haitian agreement beyond July 27 next. In this connection, M. Bérenger referred to previous correspondence on the subject and in particular to a communication made by Mr. Lansing to M. Jusserand on August 11, 1916, in which it was stated that the Financial Adviser would give due consideration in his advisory capacity to requests for the modification of customs duties, and indicated the view that the action described is in conflict with these assurances given in 1916 and confirmed in 1925 to the French Government. M. Bérenger further expressed the desire that modification of the commercial relations between France and Haiti should not take place without previous negotiations, and requested that instructions be sent to the Financial Adviser at Port au Prince to the end that the status quo should be maintained pending negotiations in the matter.

It is the understanding of the Government of the United States that on March 10, 1919, the French representative at Port au Prince informed the Haitian Government of the denunciation of the Commercial Convention of 1907, to take effect September 10, 1919, with the provision that the Convention might be prolonged by tacit agreement every three months. The original action looking toward the termination of this agreement thus appears to have been taken by the Government of France and not by the Government of Haiti.

The communication of August 11, 1910, made by Mr. Lansing to M. Jusserand read in part as follows:

“The Financial Adviser to the Republic of Haiti, appointed pursuant to the terms of the relevant article of the Convention of September 16, 1915, 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.”

The Department of State has received no information to the effect that due consideration of requests pertaining to the modification of present customs duties has not been afforded by the Financial Adviser. I do not, therefore, perceive that there has been any departure from the assurances given in 1916, and consequently see no basis for the intervention of this Government. Nevertheless, in view of the interest of your Government, I shall if you so desire be glad to forward to the American High Commissioner in Port au Prince, for the information of the Financial Adviser, a copy of your communication.

While I am not in a position to take any steps to the end that the status quo be maintained, since this is a matter for the decision of the Haitian Government regarding which I find no basis for action on the part of the Government of the United States, I wish to invite your attention to the statement in Mr. Lansing’s note of August 11, [Page 410] 1916, to the effect that it is “the desire of this Government to neglect nothing that will ensure for French citizens treatment in Haiti equal to that accorded to Americans”.

Accept [etc.]

Joseph C. Grew