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

No. 2383

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 966 of March 1, 1932, transmitting a copy of a letter from Congressman E. W. Goss, together with its enclosure,11 the text of a communication from the Waterbury Farrel Foundry and Machine Company, with regard to the contemplated restrictions upon the importation of machine tools into France.

The matter of the proposed quota has, for some time, been the object of consideration by the Embassy. After consultation with this chancery, [Page 210] the Commercial Attaché, on March 3rd, telegraphed his Department that a quota on machine tools was envisaged. He stated that whatever restriction is ultimately adopted will be based upon an agreement reached in preliminary negotiations with foreign trade representatives. It was his suggestion, therefore, that an effort be made to induce the French Government to afford an opportunity for American representatives to be heard and with that end in view, he recommended that the National Machine Tool Builders Association of the United States be asked if it desired to appoint a spokesman.

Both the Commercial Attaché and the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris have been in touch with the French authorities in an endeavor to obtain sympathetic consideration on behalf of the American interests involved. These informal representations have, moreover, been directly supported by the Embassy. On March 10th, 1932, I personally stressed to M. Rollin, Minister of Commerce, the advisability of consulting with representatives of American exporters before putting the various quotas into effect and left with him a note enlarging upon this point of view, not only with regard to quotas in general but, in particular, as concerns the contemplated restrictions on machine tools.

While this note was before the Minister of Commerce, the Department of Commerce of the United States discussed the problem with the Machine Tool Builders Association. As a result of the conversations, Fenwick, S. A., which, incidentally, is the agent in France for the Waterbury Farrel Foundry and Machine Company, was designated to speak for the American industry and given appropriate instructions to that end, the Commercial Attaché being notified of the arrangement effected. It was, nevertheless, not till March 16th that I received a note from the Minister of Commerce in response to my representations of the 10th. (For text, see my despatch No. 2381 of March 17th) The Minister expressed his regret that the quota on machine tools could no longer be held up but intimated that favorable consideration might be given to consultation with American interests in the instances of future quotas.

Despite the unfavorable nature of M. Rollin’s response, the Embassy was yesterday prepared to inform the French Government that no delay would be caused by consultation with American interests, since Fenwick is in Paris and had already been designated to represent those interests. It was to have been further requested that Fenwick be permitted to state the American case. Unfortunately, however, this further move was blocked by the signing of decrees putting the machine tool quota into effect.

There are enclosed two copies of the Journal Officiel of March [Page 211] 17th,12 containing on page 2762, the text of the Presidential decree authorizing a quota on certain categories of machine tools, and on page 2763, the ministerial decree indicating the global restrictions placed on such importation. On page 2779 may be found a notice indicating the contingents under the global quota assigned to the several exporting countries.

As may be observed, the Embassy has made every effort to obtain a hearing for American machine tool manufacturers, in which it has been materially assisted by the helpful cooperation of the Department of Commerce and the industry itself. It is to be regretted that the Minister of Commerce delayed his response to my representations until such time as effective action was made impossible by the promulgation of the quota decree.

Respectfully yours,

Walter E. Edge
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  2. Not reprinted.