683.003/36: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Jardine) to the Secretary of State

22. Following decree of Egyptian Government of February 11 imposing increased customs duty on matches and new excise duty of some $15 a case and prescribing penalties for failure on the part of merchants to declare all matches in their possession in order that new excise duty be collected, announcement made officially on February 14 that Assembly of Mixed Court of Appeals having approved article 1 of the decree establishing method of collection and article 7 establishing penalties, the decree has become applicable to foreigners. French and Italians presented to Government yesterday an almost identic aide-mémoire and Belgians have also protested without reference matter their respective Governments. French point out retroactive features tax and failure Government to submit entire text of decree [Page 153] to Assembly Mixed Court of Appeals despite request that body to be consulted on entire provisions to determine whether the legislation, according article 2 decree January 31, 1889 (for which see Brinton,23 Mixed Courts of Egypt) contained no provision contrary to text of treaties and conventions.

French, Italian and Belgian Legations, while expressing themselves as not averse to the taxation in question, decline to admit the application to their nationals of tax established under such conditions. Judge Brinton opposed approval in Assembly which was subsequently moved to reconsider action as the result of strong influence Bedawi Pasha24 who stated that Government would accept all political and diplomatic responsibility. In approving the two articles of decree submitted administers [Assembly] expressly reserved any expression of opinion as to decree as whole and placed upon Government responsibility for its promulgation. French, Italians and Belgians anxious for our support. While no Americans affected, I regard principle as an important one and recommend I be instructed to present aide-mémoire substantially following broad general position taken by principal capitulatory powers as indicated above.

  1. Judge Jasper Y. Brinton (American), member of Mixed Court of Appeals.
  2. Chief of legal commission of Egyptian Government.