The French Ambassador (Claudel) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: The notes, concerning tariff regimes, exchanged between the American Government and the French Government in September and October, 1927,12 have shown that on the ground of principles and systems the difference of points of view was too great to permit of arriving at an agreement. By common accord, it was decided to put the question on the ground of practical concessions made possible by the laws of our respective countries and capable of giving concrete expression to the goodwill of our Governments.13

Accordingly, as a result of the Franco-German agreement,14 the treatment of American merchandise upon its entry into France, has, from the sixth of September,15 been changed in such a way as to give complete satisfaction to American commerce.

The several items of the French tariff which later gave rise to complaints on the part of your exporters were the object of corrective measures.

Finally, the agreements concluded with Switzerland and Belgium, in force since April 15,16 led to new concessions because the French Government attached importance to giving the United States the [Page 823]benefit of the new minimum tariff even when such tariff is lower than the duties borne by American merchandise before September 6.

The equivalent of these important advantages should be found, according to the spirit of our agreement of last October, in a friendly examination by the American Government and the Tariff Commission of requests for the lowering of duties affecting specifically French merchandise when differences in the cost of production in the two countries justify it, and in a modification of certain administrative measures which are considered especially prejudicial to the normal development of exchanges.

I have the honor to transmit to you the two attached lists of the claims of French commerce.17 The first indicates the articles of merchandise affected by duties which appear to our exporters to be excessive, for which articles the French Government is ready to furnish the Tariff Commission with estimates on the cost of production in France. In order to arrive at fair conclusions on this point, I believe that it will be necessary for the Tariff Commission to reach an agreement with this Embassy as to the methods to be employed in the two countries in making up these estimates. It seems to me, indeed, desirable that the special conditions of production in France, such as the output of labor, the non-amortized capital, the fiscal burdens, should be equitably taken into consideration.

The second list concerns the modifications that we should like to see made in the general provisions of the American tariff. We will furnish the American Government with all the details which may be desired on each of the questions raised in order to justify the reasonableness of the latter.

I have no doubt but that concessions which may result from our requests for the lowering of excessive duties and for the modification of administrative measures harmful to French commerce would greatly facilitate the later negotiation of a long term treaty of amity and commerce between the United States and France.

Please accept [etc.]

  1. See Foreign Relations, 1927, vol. ii, pp. 670 698.
  2. See ibid., pp. 698 703.
  3. League of Nations Treaty Series No. 1761, vol. lxxvi, p. 5; for English translation, See p. 345.
  4. For text of the French decree, dated Aug. 30, 1927, and effective Sept. 6, 1927, see Journal Officiel: Lois et décrets, Aug. 31, 1927, p. 9163.
  5. League of Nations Treaty Series No. 1698, vol. lxxii, p. 275; and No. 1599, vol. lxix, p. 49, respectively.
  6. Not printed.