638.5131/10: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Herrick )


193. (1) The Chargé in Haiti telegraphed the Department on July 1014 that the French Government has informed the Government of Haiti that the former will apply the maximum duties on Haitian coffee imported into France unless Haiti continues the privileged position of certain French imports. The Government of Haiti desires to place its relations with France on reciprocal most-favored-nation basis and requests the good offices of this Government in connection with its desire to conclude an arrangement of that nature with France.

(2) French Government denounced the Franco-Haitian commercial convention of 1907 on September 10, 1919, with the provision that by tacit agreement it might be prolonged every three months. It appears, therefore, that original action looking towards termination of the convention was taken by France instead of Haiti. It also appears that French Government wishes to conclude new arrangement with Haiti on basis of special concessions to French commerce. As the Government of Haiti is adopting the general policy of unconditional most-favored-nation treatment, the Department understands that Haiti would be prepared to make no discrimination against French commerce.

(3) The Department is reluctant to believe that the French Government would enter upon a policy of discrimination against imports from Haiti merely because the latter is unwilling to discriminate in favor of imports from France. Department has been informed that France admits at minimum tariff rates coffee from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Venezuela, no one of which countries accords special favors to France. Other countries are given minimum rates in France without special favors being given in return and Haiti desires that its commercial relations with France likewise be placed on reciprocal most-favored-nation basis.

(4) The Department proposed a modus vivendi, based on most-favored-nation treatment, to Haiti in August 1925,15 but at request of [Page 411] Haitian Government negotiations were not pressed. Recently the Government of Haiti expressed its willingness to proceed; and on July 8, 1926, a modus vivendi, to come into effect on October 1, was concluded16 similar to other agreements with about a dozen other countries which provide for reciprocal unconditional most-favored-nation treatment. In view of section 317, Tariff Act of 1922,17 this Government has been following policy of negotiating agreements with countries discriminating against the United States with view to effecting the elimination of this discrimination wherever possible without having to enforce penalty duties. It will be seen that in view of this provision this Government could not have requested Government of Haiti to continue a regime of exclusive privileges to French commerce as had been requested in the note from the French Embassy, copy of which was sent you in Department’s instruction No. 1634, June 29, last,18 as such a course of action would have rendered Haitian imports into the United States liable to penalty duties here.

5. As soon as possible please take this matter up, orally and informally, with the Foreign Office, using as much of the foregoing as in your discretion you deem most effective, and endeavor to prevent the proposed discrimination against Haitian imports into France. Also at your discretion, yon may point out that a very unfavorable impression would be created were France to discriminate against a small country like Haiti notwithstanding latter’s willingness to accord most-favored treatment to French trade and merely for reason that Haiti would not agree to discriminate in favor of France against other countries.

  1. Telegram not printed.
  2. See pp. 401 ff.
  3. Ante, p. 405.
  4. 42 Stat. 858.
  5. Instruction not printed.