The Chargé in Denmark (Paddock) to the Secretary of State

No. 551

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt by the Legation on April 20th last of the Department’s Instruction No. 90 of April 5, 1928, enclosing a copy of despatch No. 2861 dated February 14, 1928, from the American Consul General at Copenhagen concerning the extension of the privileges of free importation to American and Danish Consular Officers in the country of the other under the provisions of the Convention of 1826 between the United States and Denmark.

As directed in the above mentioned Instruction, the Legation at once brought this matter to the attention of the Foreign Minister in a note embodying the substance of the same. I have since at intervals inquired of the Director General of the Foreign Office, Count Reventlow, as to when a reply to the Legation’s communication [Page 735] on the subject might be expected, and on each occasion he has told me that the matted was under consideration and that a reply would be made as soon as possible. In response to a further inquiry Count Reventlow has to-day referred me to the chief of the Political Division of the Foreign Office, Mr. Engell, with whom I have just had an interview. Mr. Engell now informs me that the matter has been receiving very careful consideration and that he hopes that the Foreign Office will shortly be able to make a definite reply. As regards an interpretation of the privileges granted to consular officers under Articles 8 and 10 of the Convention of 1826, Mr. Engell stated that in his opinion the extension of the right to free importation hinges on the meaning of the word “imposts” in Article 10, and that the Danish equivalent for that word as it appears in the Danish text could hardly be taken to include customs duties but would more properly signify internal taxes or contributions, which would also appear to be its meaning from the Danish context. He did not, however, maintain that the Danish text should necessarily govern. He stated that if the Department’s interpretation of the Articles of the Convention were accepted, it would mean that the present Danish law and regulations must be revised, since they provide specifically that exemption from payment of customs duties shall apply only to foreign diplomatic officers, and he added that if the Department’s present interpretation were correct, it would appear that the Danish fiscal authorities had been wrong in collecting duty on articles heretofore imported by American consular officers. This, he told me, would be a very delicate question for the Foreign Office to take up with the fiscal authorities for a number of reasons. …

With regard to the proposal that our Government would be prepared to extend to Danish Consular Officers the privileges of Article 27 of the Treaty between the United States and Germany, on the basis of the most-favoured-nation clause in the Treaty between the United States and Denmark and provided similar treatment were accorded American Consular Officers assigned to Denmark, Mr. Engell stated that any such provision would likewise require a revision of the existing Danish fiscal law and regulations, or the enactment of a new law. I mentioned, of course, that such a provision would obviously be to the advantage of the Danish service, since the number of Danish Consular Officers in the United States is considerably in excess of the number of American Consular Officers in Denmark, and since I believed too that our customs duties were as a rule higher than those in Denmark. He said that this was appreciated and that the Foreign Office would be very pleased to make such an arrangement as suggested if it were possible to obtain [Page 736] the approval of their fiscal authorities without detriment to the Danish foreign service, but that he was not certain that this could be done. In conclusion Mr. Engell again stated that the matter was receiving most careful consideration by the Foreign Office and that a reply would be made to the Legation as soon as practicable.

I have [etc.]

Gordon Paddock