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

No. 129

Subject: Application of Article 20 of the Tangier Convention. Duties on goods passing between the Tangier and Spanish Zones.

Sir: Following my Despatch No. 106 of June 5th, 1926, on the above subject, I now have the honor to inform the Department that the Administrations of the Tangier and Spanish Zones, have finally reached agreement upon a procedure which removes the necessity for the double payment of Customs duties upon merchandise entering either Zone from the other. This agreement went into force on July 25th, 1926.

Under these circumstances there would be no further occasion for the representations to the Spanish Government suggested in my Despatch No. 106 of June 5th, 1926, were it not for the fact that a clause in the above mentioned accord provides that it may be denounced by either party, upon six months’ notice, or within two months, if the conditions thereof should fail to be carried into effect.

It is obvious therefore that there exists the contingency of a relapse into the conditions, signalized in my Nos. 95 of May 4th, 1926, and [Page 728] 106 of June 5th, 1926, as violating American treaty rights in Morocco. Complete silence on the part of the Department, in the premises, might eventually be construed as a tacit recognition of the rights claimed by the Authorities of the Spanish Zone, under Article 20 of the Tangier Convention of 1923, and it might be invoked as invalidating protests forthcoming from the American Government, upon any ulterior re-imposition of the duplicate Customs duties upon the property of American citizens and protégés, at the inland customs barrier between the two Zones.

It is therefore respectfully suggested that a communication upon the subject be addressed to the Spanish Government, substantially as follows, unless the American Ambassador in Madrid has already informally called the attention of the Spanish Government to the Department’s Instruction of July 1st [2d], 1926,9 copy of which was transmitted to me in the Department’s No. 386 of July 1st, 1929.10

“The Department has been informed by the Diplomatic Agent at Tangier, Morocco, that, under authority claimed to be derived from Article 20 of the Tangier Convention of 1923, to which the American Government has not adhered, the High Commissioner of Spain at Tetuan, caused to be erected on the frontier between the Tangier and Spanish Zones of Morocco, a customs barrier, at which Customs duties, already paid at the Tangier Customs House, were a second time levied by the Hispano-Shereefian Authorities upon goods proceeding from the Tangier into the Spanish Zone.

These measures, which violated the provisions of treaties to which the United States and Morocco are parties, have now, according to later advices of the American Diplomatic Agent at Tangier, been voluntarily repealed, as the result of an accord between the Administrations of the Tangier and Spanish Zones, under which the illegal levy of duplicate customs dues has been eliminated.

The Department understands, however, that under the terms of one of its clauses, the above mentioned accord, in certain conditions may be denounced by either Administration, and such eventuality, would probably entail the re-imposition of the measures above mentioned. If the Spanish High Commissioner at Tetuan, should, at some future time, decide to revert to such action, the United States Government would find itself compelled to record its formal objections to the measures in question, and make all necessary reservations in regard to the interests of American citizens and protégés, unless proper dispositions were adopted by the Authorities of the Spanish Zone to prevent the impairment, in any degree, of the rights of American citizens in the premises.”

The text, in English, of the Agreement dated July 25th, 1926, between the Administration of the Zone of Tangier and the High Commissariat of the Spanish Zone, is enclosed.10

I have [etc.]

Maxwell Blake
  1. Ante, p. 723.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.