The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) to the Secretary of State

No. 106

Subject:—Application of Article 20 of the Tangier Convention. Double duties collected on goods entering the Spanish Zone.

Sir: In further reference to my Despatch No. 95 of May 4th, 1926, on the above subject, I have the honor to inform the Department that, contrary to the expectations which I then foreshadowed, no satisfactory modification has been made to the dispositions adopted by the Spanish Authorities, in their enforcement of Article 20 of the Tangier Convention, and import duties, in addition to those collected by the Tangier Customs, continue to be levied by the Spanish Authorities, on goods conveyed by land from Tangier into the Spanish Zone.

Indeed the position has recently become aggravated by the fact that the export duties on Moroccan produce proceeding from the Spanish Zone for shipment from Tangier are now also collected by the Hispano-Shereefian Customs Administration at the barrier on the frontier of the Tangier Zone, and again by the Tangier Customs Administration when the produce is shipped at this port.

When making to my Spanish colleague the verbal representations on the matter reported in my despatch above mentioned, it was understood that he would communicate them to the competent Spanish Authorities and request them to make such administrative arrangements as would eliminate a violation of treaty provisions, in the premises, in regard to the interests of American citizens and protégés.

No response however has been received, and it would appear no longer possible to defer an explicit and formal protest on the part of the Department to the Spanish Government against measures adopted by the Spanish High Commissioner at Tetuan in violation of American treaty rights.

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No specific complaint has so far been received from American citizens or protégés in Tangier, who are apparently endeavoring to route their goods into the Spanish Zone in such a manner as to avoid the inland customs barrier, but it is not possible to expect them indefinitely to refrain from utilizing the conveniences of the Tangier land communications, and an incident must inevitably arise in the near future.

It is therefore respectfully suggested that the Department instruct the Embassy at Madrid to protest to the Spanish Government against the levy, by the Spanish-Moroccan Customs Administration, on the confines of the Spanish and International Zones, of any import or export duties on the goods of American citizens and protégés, and to demand the immediate refund of any such duties as may have been collected thereon prior to the notification of this protest.

The note to the Spanish Government should include reference to the following points.

The application of Article 20 of the Tangier Convention by means of the measures adopted by the Spanish Authorities violates the customs unity of Morocco and is contrary to the basic principle of the economic integrity of the Shereefian Empire, as provided in the Act of Algeciras.6
The measures edicted by the Spanish Authorities in their application of Article 20 of the Tangier Convention involves the double payment of customs duties already levied upon American citizens and protégés by the Authorities of the customs at Tangier.
The action of the Spanish High Commissioner at Tetuan in the premises is based upon an article of a convention to which the American Government has not adhered.
The Spanish Government should be reminded that no formal recognition of the Spanish Authorities in Morocco has been made by the Government of the United States.

I have [etc.]

Maxwell Blake
  1. Signed Apr. 7, 1906; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1906, pt. 2, p. 1495.