The Ambassador in France (Edge) to the Secretary of State

No. 2381

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 2357 of March 10, 1932, enclosing a copy of my informal communication of March 10 to the French Minister of Commerce, in which I requested that representatives of American industry be given the opportunity first to be consulted before French quotas were established in commodities of particular interest to us, and in which I also made certain representations about the proposed French quota upon machine tools.

For your information, I transmit herewith a copy and translation of the Minister’s reply.

Respectfully yours,

Walter E. Edge

The French Minister of Commerce (Rollin) to the American Ambassador (Edge)

Mr. Ambassador: By a letter dated March 10th, you were good enough to point out to me the repercussion on American commerce and industry which would be brought about by the various quota measures which have been taken by the French Government and which are at present in course of preparation.

You lay stress especially on the project of a quota for machine tools and you request that the figures of the import quantities to be admitted be not drawn up without a preliminary exchange of views [Page 205] between the French industry and the delegates of the American industry.

I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of this communication of which I personally took note and which has had my careful attention.

I need not remind you that, insofar as I am concerned, my greatest desire is to be able to arrange the quota measures in respect to foreign imports in such a way as to prejudice as little as possible American production.

Allow me, however, to point out to you that, from the point of view of the establishment of quota measures, the American industry is not placed in the same position as the majority of European industries and more especially the German industry.

In reality, if the French Government has, up to the present, invited the directors of the various French industries concerned to make an effort to come to an industrial understanding with the representatives of the different foreign industries, and, in the case in question, with the German industries, it is because of the consolidation of customs duties which exist in commercial agreements signed between France and these countries.

The engagement taken by France constitutes a particular circumstance which, (without prejudicing the incontestable right of our country to control foreign imports, notwithstanding the tariff consolidation in question), lays a moral obligation on us to make every effort in order that private industrial agreements may be concluded between the countries concerned.

Such is not, unfortunately, the situation of the United States since no contractual engagement has been entered into between this country and France.

In regard more particularly to the quota for machine tools, it does not appear to me, moreover, possible to adjourn any longer the realization of a measure which is impatiently awaited by the French industry.

I am anxious, however, to affirm that American imports of machine tools will be in no way placed at a disadvantage and that in this regard American industry will be strictly treated on an equal footing with the other foreign industries.

For the rest, the proposed quota in question is far from applying to all categories of machine tools. It only applies to some of them and again I must add that, even for these categories, a whole series of machine tools, the manufacture of which is not sufficiently developed in France, will be admitted outside of the quota.

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With regard to the future, as I am desirous of demonstrating all the consideration I attach to the request you have made me, I will willingly point out to the French industries concerned the desire of the American Government that preliminary conversations be opened between their representatives and the delegates of the corresponding American industries.

For my part, I can only see advantages in an exchange of views on this subject between American and French producers and their conclusion in private industrial agreements.

Yours [etc.]

Louis Rollin