560.M2/50: Telegram

The Chief of the American Delegation (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

16. Group 1, Article 6. The rapporteurs maintained the standpoint that in view of altered drafting of article 1 the necessity for article 6 no longer existed. The French delegation made suggestion that the question of the rights of retaliation for acts foreseen in article 6 should be referred to the group which handled article 7 on arbitration; since on the nature of the arbitration obligation depended the phraseology relative to rights of retaliation I made a statement based on your 6520 pointing out in addition the intent of the Economic Committee as outlined on page 24 of C.I.A.P.1.

The rapporteurs were of the opinion that article 6 was intended to apply only to the relation between contracting and noncontracting states and to provide a method of retaliation against violators of the convention. It was evident that the Economic Committee had had no intention in drafting this article of authorizing tariff reprisals such as are contemplated in section 317.

The chairman requested me not to insist further at the present time on this matter, expressly stating that each state of course retained the right to put in further amendments and proposals to protect their necessary interests. I had no recourse but to acquiesce.

I subsequently had conversation with two members of the Economic Committee separately. Both of them insisted on the following thesis—that the preoccupation of the American delegation relative to its rights to enforce tariff measures was unfounded; that nothing in this convention would or could be construed as affecting the right of any contracting state in this respect, either in reference to noncontracting or contracting states; that since article 6 as well as the whole convention did not envisage tariff matters but merely those prohibitions and restrictions treated under this convention, the importance of article 6 disappeared under the revised form of article 1.

Serruys, the French representative, for his part stated that if we were prepared to suggest any obligation relative to tariffs he was [Page 279] willing to introduce and urge a resolution in the final act expressly stating that nothing in this convention could be construed as interfering with the right of a state to adopt such tariff measures as conformed with its necessities, but that the Conference believed that no state should impose tariff measures in such a way as to thereby replace the restrictions which might be eliminated by this convention.

This brings up a thought to which Department may desire to give careful consideration, namely, whether such a general disclaimer of the purpose of this convention not to interfere in tariff measures is not a sufficient guarantee of our right to take any action envisaged by section 317.

If the Department is interested in this thought, please so instruct me and I will request Serruys to draft for transmission to Department what he proposes to insert. Your criticisms in advance of his proposal would be helpful.

  1. Ante, p. 254.