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

No. 574

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Instruction No. 613 of November 10th, 1930, (File No. 681.00212/2),11 enclosing a communication addressed to the Department by the Department of Commerce on the subject of a Decree dated June 24th, 1930 (issued in abrogation of the Decree of July 6th, 1929) relative to the regulations governing the importation of tinned foods into the Zone of the French Protectorate.

While it is true that the regulations above referred to appear to eliminate the objectionable requirement as to the impressing or embossing of indications of the country of origin on the metal containers, which was the subject of correspondence between this Diplomatic Agency and the French Protectorate Authorities, the fact remains that the latter have made no communication of the provisions of the new Decree to this Diplomatic Agency.

I therefore entirely agree with the suggestion of the Department of Commerce that it would be preferable, in the circumstances, to publish no announcement in this connection, which might be construed as a recognition of and acceptance by the American Government of a legislative innovation in the absence of the previous application for the Department’s assent to and the latter’s acquiesce[nee] in the application of such measure to American nationals and ressortissants.

It would seem important to maintain a strict observance of this principle which the French Residency General, I am given to understand, is deliberately attempting to evade, on the contention that the Protectorate Government is entirely free to legislate for the general public interest, without reference to any of the treaty Powers and that the treaties are sufficiently respected if infractions of the laws committed [Page 745] by American nationals or protégés are brought before the American Consular Courts.

This contention is not only untenable in itself, but evidence is not lacking, as the Department is aware, that the Protectorate Government’s legislation which purports to be of a general order, is not infrequently framed to the detriment or embarrassment of the trade of some particular nation or nations, if not manifestly discriminating in the favor of French interests.

Replying to the inquiry contained in the last paragraph of the letter of the Department of Commerce, I would state that while there would appear to be no legal obligation on American shippers to comply with any implied specification of the Decree to the effect that the indications referred to should be couched in the French language, it should be remembered that the large majority of the consumers of tinned food products are found among the French speaking population of the Protectorate. It would seem therefore that the interests of American shippers would be better served if all descriptions and indications of goods destined to French Morocco, were, so far as possible, to be made in the French language.

The metric system should, in any case, be used for the indication of weights, since the Protectorate Government’s Decree adopting metric weights and measures as the legal system in French Morocco has received the approval of the Department.

The third paragraph of Article 1 of the Decree of June 24th, 1930, is taken to mean that cans and jars made up in weights to be retailed unopened to the consumer need not necessarily bear indications of the net weight of the contents.

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Respectfully yours,

Maxwell Blake
  1. Not printed.