The Chargé in Lithuania (Sussdorff) to the Secretary of State

No. 5728

Sir: Referring to the Department’s telegram No. 64, of November 10, 8 p.m., 1928, concerning the question of certificates of origin under the revised Lithuanian customs regulations, I have the honor to report that the Legation promptly took up the matter with the American Consul in Kovno, Mr. Fullerton, by telephone, in the sense of the Department’s telegram. On November 17, I transmitted to Mr. Fullerton a copy of the Legation’s despatch No. 5439, of July 10, 1928, concerning customs regulations and certificates of origin in Latvia.6

In this connection, I now have the honor to transmit copies of two communications, dated November 13 and 21, 1928, from the American Consul at Kovno, setting forth the substance of his conversations with Lithuanian officials concerning the question of certificates of origin in Lithuania.

I have [etc.]

Louis Sussdorff, Jr.
[Enclosure 1]

The Consul at Kovno (Fullerton) to the Chargé in Lithuania (Sussdorff)

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s telephonic communication with this office yesterday relative to a telegram recently received from the Department inquiring with respect to Lithuanian regulations governing certificates of origin under the recently amended tariff, and to state that I to-day called on the appropriate authorities in the Lithuanian Ministry of Finance and discussed with them the importation of American goods into Lithuania, either directly or through third countries.

Under date of October 8, 1928, I provided the Department with a report entitled “Regulations for the Enforcement of the New Lithuanian Import Tariff Amendment”,7 which must by this time be in possession of the Department and which includes a description of [Page 289] certificates of origin and of the procedure now governing imports into Lithuania from abroad. The officials with whom I discussed this matter this morning stated that they did not anticipate difficulties in connection with the importation of American goods, provided firms shipping to Lithuania obtained proper instructions and the necessary documents of origin from Lithuanian consular representatives in the United States. Goods purchased in such countries as Germany or Denmark, having their origin in the United States, which are resold to Lithuanian importers, must be covered by certificates issued by Lithuanian consular representatives stationed in the country from which the goods are immediately imported.

The Lithuanian Ministry of Finance is inclined to believe that very few questions will arise over the entry of American goods, properly documented. Indirect imports from the United States into this country are in most cases accomplished through Germany or through Scandinavia, and Germany and the Scandinavian countries have commercial agreements with Lithuania which place them practically upon an identical basis with the United States in so far as the application of the tariff is concerned. It is understood that the origin of material is being scrutinized most carefully where it is indirectly imported from a country enjoying no commercial agreement with Lithuania and therefore subject to the application of the maximum duties provided by the amended Lithuanian Import Tariff. …

[Enclosure 2]

The Consul at Kovno (Fullerton) to the Chargé in Lithuania (Sussdorff)

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s telephonic communications of November 15 and 16, 1928, and to its letter of November 17, 1928, enclosing a copy of despatch No. 5439, dated July 10, 1928, with enclosures, relative to the certificates of origin question under the revised Lithuanian customs regulations, and to state that I approached the Lithuanian Ministry of Finance again today in order to make sure that no difficulties might meet the importation of certain types of American goods into Lithuania, either directly or through a third country.

With regard to the specific points raised by the Legation with the Latvian Government, the competent authorities of the Lithuanian Ministry of Finance state that they anticipate no difficulties in connection with the entry into Lithuania of such food products as lard, fatbacks, et cetera, under certificates issued by the Department of Agriculture of the United States, in lieu of the customary certificates [Page 290] of origin, and that the same applies to the United States grain inspection certificates issued under the auspices of responsible American Grain Exchanges, signed by United States grain inspectors. It is understood that the authorities here will also accept, in lieu of certificates of origin, Canadian grain inspection certificates, issued under the authority of the Canadian Government, which state on their faces that the grain which they cover is of United States origin.

The new Lithuanian Regulations (Paragraph VIII), effective October 1, 1928, provide for the admission into Lithuania without certificates of origin of merchandise which unmistakably indicates by trade marks or otherwise its origin in the United States.

It should be pointed out in this general connection that the purpose of the new regulations is to prevent the possible importation of material subject to maximum duties under the revised tariff, effective October 1, 1928, when originating in countries with which Lithuania has no commercial agreement providing for most favored nation treatment. The importation direct or through a third country of goods which, irrespective of their origin, fall under the minimum tariff, is apparently not of particular interest to the Lithuanian authorities and the identity of the country of origin is vital where the imports if coming from a country not enjoying a commercial accord with Lithuania would be subject to maximum duties. The United States, having a commercial accord with Lithuania,9 enjoys most favored nation consideration for its imports into this country.

It is now stated by the Ministry of Finance that in cases of transshipment to Lithuania from the free port of Danzig, the customs authorities will not be willing to accept documents of identity issued by officials in charge of bonded warehouses or by the Chamber of Commerce, as no Lithuanian consular representative is maintained in Danzig whose certificate might be attached thereto. Documents of origin, duly certified by the appropriate Lithuanian consular or diplomatic representatives, should, therefore, cover all American goods subject to transshipment through the free port of Danzig, if they might be subject to maximum duties under the revised tariff in the event that they were confused with materials originating in countries with which Lithuania has no commercial agreement. It is understood that goods transshipped through other free ports will not be subjected to similar requirements due to the presence elsewhere of Lithuanian consular or diplomatic officers qualified to certify to their origin upon the basis of such documents as those outlined in Paragraph V of the revised [Page 291] regulations, which became effective October 1, 1928. It should be added that, as the Lithuanian revised regulations provide that merchandise whose origin is unmistakably identified by trade marks or other distinguishing marks (Paragraphs IV and VIII) may enter without certificates of origin there should be no obstacle to the importation, transshipped through the free port of Danzig, of American products which are obviously of American and no other origin.

The attitude of the Ministry of Finance is a liberal one as applied to the importation of merchandise of United States origin, and it is thought that, in practice, only in the event of the suspicion arising of the substitution of Polish goods through transshipment at Danzig may difficulties be anticipated in this regard. The compliance of American shippers with the requirements outlined in the regulations for the enforcement of the new Lithuanian Import Tariff Amendment, which was sent to the Department in translation in this Consulate’s report No. 74, of October 8, 1928,10 should, of course, remove any obstacle to the importation into Lithuania of goods of United States origin, but it is thought that the Legation may now care to apprise the Department of the attitude of the Lithuanian Government with respect to the establishment of the origin of goods transshipped through the free port of Danzig.

I have [etc.]

Hugh S. Fullerton
  1. Ante, p. 232.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Agreement between the United States and Lithuania according mutual unconditional most-favored-nation treatment in customs matters, signed December 23, 1925, Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. ii, pp. 500503.
  4. Not printed.