The Acting Secretary of State to Senator Reed Smoot 57

My Dear Senator Smoot: Referring to previous correspondence regarding the so-called countervailing duty provisos in the tariff bill which are inconsistent with most-favored-nation treaties, I hope that the conference committee can give consideration to reconciling such provisos with our treaty obligations. The pending bill as passed by the Senate and by the House, respectively, contained such provisos in their mandatory form, as follows:

As Passed by the House As Passed by the Senate
Par. Par.
369, automobiles etc. 401, lumber
371, bicycles etc. 1402, paperboard etc.
1402, paperboard etc. 1621, bread
1640, calcium acetate 1650, coal etc.
1649, coal etc.
1686, gunpowder, etc.

As suggested in my letter of February 4, 1930,58 if it is considered necessary to retain any of these provisos the treaty obligations could [Page 247] be saved from impairment by adding to each paragraph in which any such proviso appears a provision that nothing in the paragraph shall be construed or permitted to operate in any manner to impair or affect the provisions of any treaty between the United States and any foreign nation.

It is understood that those who favored the reenactment of such provisos had primarily in view their use in connection with our trade with Canada, a country with which we have no treaty guaranteeing most-favored-nation treatment in customs matters. It is estimated that not less than 80 per cent, of our total importations of products which would be affected by the countervailing duty provisos come from that country, and that of the remainder a very considerable proportion comes from other countries with which the United States has no treaties providing for most-favored-nation treatment. Thus it is evident that provisions such as those suggested would not prevent the countervailing duty provisos from serving their intended purpose, and yet would make manifest the intention of this Government fully to meet the obligations accepted in its treaties.


J. P. Cotton
  1. Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
  2. Not printed.