The Consul at Tananarive (Carter) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 30.]
Sir: On pages 7, 8 and 9 of the Consulate’s commercial report dated July 18, 1926,56 concerning concrete results of its trade promotion work during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1926, was discussed correspondence had by the Consulate with the Acting Governor General of Madagascar and Dependencies in the matter of ascertaining whether, under Article 7 of the Consular Convention of February 23, 1853,57 between France and the United States, American merchants doing business in this French colony may not be exempt from the payment of special taxes imposed upon all foreign business concerns, and which are not equally imposed upon French firms.
According to the terms of an arrêté of the Governor General of February 10, 1899, concerning domanial concessions, when local Government land is purchased by a Frenchman, one-half of the purchase price is paid when the provisional title is delivered, and the remaining one-half is paid when the definite title is delivered. When the purchaser is a foreigner, the arrêté requires that the total purchase price be paid when the provisional title is delivered. It usually requires considerable time for the delivery of the definite title, which may mean anything from three to ten years, and it may happen that the definite title is never delivered where some native may claim possession through ancestorial rights, etc.
Under date of July 12, 1926, the Consulate again wrote the Acting Governor General, with further reference to the application of equal rights of American citizens under Article 7 of the Consular Convention of February 23, 1853, to ascertain whether American citizens in Madagascar may not, when making application for land concessions, be permitted to pay one-half of the price thereof upon the delivery of [Page 130] the provisional title, and the other one-half when the definite title is delivered, as in the case of Frenchmen.
By his letter of the 30th. of July, 1926, the Acting Governor General informed me that, in consideration of my letter of the 25th. of May, 1926, concerning the unequal payment of licences and other taxes paid by foreigners and Frenchmen in Madagascar, he had requested Governor General Olivier, who is on mission in France, to ascertain from the French Minister of Colonies, in case the Consular Convention of 1853 should be considered applicable in all French territory and not only in France itself, just what provisions of the Decree of 1925 and the Arrêté of February 10, 1899, should not be applicable to American citizens. By a letter of the 11th. of August, in reply to a further letter from me dated the 12th. of July, the Acting Governor General advised that, in the absence of contrary instructions from the Minister of Colonies, the application of the restrictions against foreigners provided for by the Arrêté of February 10, 1899, remain applicable to American citizens, as well as other foreigners.
As of possible interest to the Department, there are enclosed copies of the correspondence passed between the Consulate and the Acting Governor General of Madagascar and Dependencies on this subject.58
As of possible interest to the Embassy, a copy of this despatch, with its enclosures, is being transmitted to the American Ambassador at Paris.
I have [etc.]