The Minister in Venezuela ( Cook ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1354

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s Instruction No. 1099 of June 21, 1927,11 instructing me to report in regard to the attitude of the Venezuelan Government toward undertaking negotiations at this time for the conclusion of a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights between the United States and Venezuela.

On several occasions I have discussed informally this matter with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who now informs me that after a careful study his Government does not consider a treaty embodying the unconditional most-favored-nation principle as suited to a country of Venezuela’s limited commercial and economic development. He stated that it was believed to be the better policy for Venezuela to be free to make concessions in return for those granted her.

Another objection which he urged was that the proposed treaty contained provisions in regard to consular immunities and functions, to the confirmation of professional titles, and to commerce in transit and coast wise trade, which he said are contrary to Venezuelan legislation and tradition. Moreover, treaties based upon this legislation, and also [Page 824] embodying the most favored nation principle, have been entered into with other powers and therefore the conclusion of the proposed treaty with the United States would mean the repeal of much of Venezuela’s fundamental legislation as well as changing the nature of her treaties now in force.

The Minister further stated that his Government felt that as their present political and commercial relations with the United States were so satisfactory there was no need of a treaty at this time. To this I remarked that Venezuela might conclude commercial treaties with other countries which would be antagonistic to equal treatment for the United States. To this he replied that nothing of that kind would occur, that Venezuela would enter into no treaty which would discriminate against our interests.

The question of the removal of the thirty per cent, additional duty now levied upon imports from Porto Rico, I have not taken up with the Venezuelan authorities, for the reason that the Department in its Instruction No. 1053 of August 17, 1926, stated that it believed, “that, if Venezuela should become party to a treaty with the United States containing language such as that of Article VII of the American-German Treaty, the thirty per centum additional duties would become inoperative in respect of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands of the United States.”

I have no doubt as to the sincerity of the Venezuelan Government’s statement of its reasons for its opposition to embodying in its treaties the unconditional most favored nation principle. It is going to be a matter of convincing the Government that its opposition is not well founded.

Should the Department desire me to pursue this matter further I request that if possible I be furnished with studies showing the advantage which the unconditional most favored nation principle has for countries in a stage of economic and industrial development similar to that of Venezuela.12

I have [etc.]

Willis C. Cook
  1. Not printed.
  2. There were no further negotiations for a treaty with Venezuela.