The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) to the Secretary of State

No. 255

Sir: I have the honor to transmit to the Department herewith, copy, in the French text and in English translation, of a Telegram dated January 10th, 1928, which I have received from the Resident-General of France at Rabat, informing me that, on account of the disasters occasioned by recent floods in the province of the Gharb, the consumption tax on sugar has been increased by 10 Francs per metric quintal, to be effective on the following day. I also attach hereto a copy of my reply to Mr. Steeg’s Telegram.

Notwithstanding the laudable purpose to which it is intended apparently to apply the increased taxation, the precipitancy of this fiscal measure is equally open to the objections signalized in my No. 250 of December 26th, 1927,1 in connection with the over night increases on alcohol.

The Department will note therefore that in my reply to Mr. Steeg, I have made specific allusion to the illegal nature of the levy of the increased consumption tax upon American citizens and protégés, effected prior to the notification of the Department’s assent thereto, and I have formulated appropriate reservations in this connection.

The Department will also observe that I have drawn the attention of the Resident-General to the fact that his Telegram contained no formal solicitation for the American Government’s acquiescence in the measure, but that I was transmitting such request on the assumption that the omission was involuntary.

The object of this reference was to dispel a conception which has appeared recently, to emphasize itself in the minds of the Residency-General and of the French functionaries of the Protectorate, that [Page 342] the provisions of the treaties with Morocco, under which the United States is empowered to sanction or to veto the application of new fiscal measures to American citizens and protégés, has become but a shadowy right, which can be sufficiently conciliated by the mere notification, to the American Representative, of the enforcement of such decrees.

The average annual tonnage of sugar imported into the French Zone is approximately 250,000 metric tons. The additional ten Francs per metric quintal therefore will constitute a revenue of about 25,000,000 Francs.

There has yet appeared no indication of the importance of the sums which will be required for the relief of the victims of the floods, and the repair of general damage, nor is there any suggestion as to a limit of time during which this additional tax will be levied for the special purpose.

However, providing the additional taxation is to be applied universally and indiscriminately to all nationals, I perceive no reason for withholding its application to American citizens and protégés.

I respectfully request the Department’s instructions as to the Note which it desires I should address to the Resident-General of France on this subject.

I have [etc.]

Maxwell Blake
[Enclosure 1—Telegram—Translation]

The French Resident General in Morocco (Steeg) to the American Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake)

I have the honor to inform you that on account of the disasters occasioned by the recent floods in the Gharb, it has been necessary to increase the consumption tax on sugar by ten Francs per quintal from the eleventh of January.

Sentiments of my high consideration.

[File copy not signed
[Enclosure 2]

The American Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) to the French Resident General in Morocco (Steeg)

Mr. Resident General: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s Telegram, dated January 10th, 1928, informing me that, owing to the disasters occasioned by the recent floods in the Gharb, the consumption tax on sugar has been increased by 10 Francs per metric quintal, as from the date of January 11th, 1928.

Although the above Telegram contains no specific mention to such effect, I naturally presume that this communication is made to me [Page 343] for the purpose of soliciting, on behalf of the Residency-General, my Government’s consent to the application of this increased rate of taxation to American citizens and protégés in the French Zone.

I have accordingly laid the matter before my Government for its consideration, and shall not fail to notify Your Excellency of its decision, immediately upon receipt of my instructions, in the premises.

Your Excellency is aware that, until the Shereefian Government has been notified of the assent of the United States Government to the fiscal measure in question, the levy of the additional amount of taxation on American citizens and protégés, will be illegal, and I am therefore compelled to formulate full reservations in respect of claims which may, in this connection, be made by American ressortissants in the Zone of the French Protectorate.

Please accept [etc.]

Maxwell Blake
  1. Not printed.