The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 3, 1931.]
Sir: In my previous despatches on the above subject I had the honor to signalize to the Department the following circumstances which would appear to debar the acquiescence of the American Government’s assent to the application to American ressortissants in Morocco of the new and increased consumption taxes decreed for the French Zone by a Shereefian Dahir of June 20th, 1930:—
- The privileged exemption from taxation on Petroleum carburants and lubricating oils of certain groups in the community, namely the “Carburant Cooperative Societies of the Colonial Farmers”.
- The character of a tariff barrier attributable to the consumption taxes on imported refrigerated meats, since this consumption tax is not applicable to Domestic meats.
- The discrimination resulting from the consumption tax on Edible Soya Bean Oil in favor of ground nut oil originating in the French Colonies.
1. The grounds of the objection referred to in regard to the consumption tax on Petroleum products were fully set forth, in my No. 535 of August 20th, 1930,9 and are, in my submission [opinion?], still entirely warranted.
The policy in the French Zone of Morocco, with regard to the Petroleum products distributing trade was the subject of my No. 533 of August 14th, 1930,9 and a later report in this connection from the American Consulate at Casablanca tends to confirm the apprehension which I expressed that this privileged exemption of the Colonist Farmers Cooperative Societies from the duty and consumption taxes on carburants, may be used as an element, in the movement afoot in the French Protectorate to concentrate the petroleum products distributing trade into French hands, to the exclusion of American or other non French interests.
I therefore venture to reiterate my suggestion that in the reply to the French Resident General on the subject of the Dahir of June [Page 743]20th, 1930, that the Protectorate Government be specifically notified that the consumption taxes on petroleum products will not be made applicable to American nationals and ressortissants until after the exemptions in question shall have ceased to subsist [exist?].
2. The American Consulate at Casablanca reports some recent developments in regard to the taxation on frozen meats. A project of a Dahir has been prepared by the “Direction des Douanes” for submission to the Residency General, reducing the consumption tax on frozen meat from Francs 2.00 to Francs 0.50 per kilogram, and providing for a refund to importers of the difference between the two taxes levied on all imports since the publication of the Dahir of June 20th, 1930.
It may be noted that no question is being raised as to placing the consumption tax on fresh meat brought over from France in chilled chambers of importing steamers, whereas frozen meat will pay the consumption tax.
The French press in the Protectorate reveals the fact that the reduction of the tax on frozen meat is being adopted for the purpose of frustrating the importation of cattle from South America, which was found to be a practicable venture under the regime of the higher tax. The so called consumption tax on imported frozen meat, despite its reduced amount, is designed in effect therefore, as a protective tariff measure, rather than as revenue resource.
I am emphatically of the opinion that the Department should refuse assent to any consumption taxes which are made applicable exclusively to imported goods, since such consumption taxes would merely constitute a disguised modification of the customs regime of Morocco, as laid down by the treaties.
3. In this connection it is interesting to note from the report of the American Vice-Consul at Casablanca that he has been unofficially informed by his British Colleague that the tax of Francs 0.50 on Soya Bean Oil is to be cancelled and replaced by a lesser duty on all edible oils.
The British Consul General states that in the opinion of the British Officials, the measure above referred to will remove the objectionable elements of the Dahir of June 20th, 1930, which has not been accepted by the British Foreign Office, but that a King’s Regulation will probably be issued applying the provisions of the Dahir as modified in the sense above indicated, to subjects and ressortissants of Great Britain.
The British Foreign Office appears to have overlooked the objections to the taxes on Petroleum and on frozen meat which I have set forth herein, and which, I believe, should not escape the Department’s consideration.
In conclusion I would recall the attention of the Department to the advisability of incorporating into the representations to be made [Page 744]to the Resident General of France on the subject of the Dahir of June 20th, 1930, the paragraph suggested on page 7 of my No. 519 of July 2nd, 1930,11 in regard to the liability of the Protectorate Government for the refund of all consumption taxes levied on American concerns under the Dahir in the absence of the Department’s prior assent thereto.