The Minister in Ethiopia (Southard) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 16.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to the general subject of the new Ethiopian excise tax law which was promulgated at the end of last March, and which provoked a great deal of discussion in the local Diplomatic Corps with the development of opinion on the part of some of my colleagues that the law should be protested as a violation of the Franco-Ethiopian (Klobukowsky) Treaty of 1908.
All of my colleagues have since received instructions from their respective governments which are in summary to the effect that the excise tax law should not be protested as a violation of the Klobukowsky Treaty, and that they should enter into any arrangement decided upon by the local Diplomatic Corps which would lead to a liberalization of Article 3 of the Treaty as to customs duties in return for concessions by the Ethiopians which would lead to a better organization and administration of the judicial privileges obtained under Article 7 of the Treaty.
Since the receipt by all of my colleagues of their instructions along the above lines there has been no meeting of the Diplomatic Corps to discuss them and to decide upon what approach is to be made to the Ethiopian Government. …
Three days ago I asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs confidentially whether he had had anything on this subject from any of my colleagues individually or otherwise and he replied that he had not. There has been no renewal of the threats of the Ethiopians to denounce the Klobukowsky Treaty, although I suspect that their interest in that direction may be revived if and when the Diplomatic Corps proposes a more liberal judicial organization and procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty. Even the present special court privileges enjoyed by foreigners are distinctly resented by the Ethiopians, and I doubt whether they would yield in any substantial way to a request for revision in the direction of foreign favor or convenience. It is, therefore, probably just as well that the Diplomatic Corps is inactive and dilatory in the matter of any proposed discussion of a revision of Articles 3 and 7.[Page 224]
Further report will promptly be made in this matter as soon as there are developments.13
- A revised excise tax law, dated July 16, 1931, was reported by the Minister in his despatch No. 774, July 28, 1931 (884.512 Consumption/26).↩