The Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray) to the Minister in Rumania (Wilson)
My Dear Mr. Minister: Mr. Sussdorff’s despatch No. 929 of August 15, 1932,75 entitled “Preferential Tariffs” has been read in the Department with interest and particular note has been taken of that portion of the despatch in which he advances the opinion “that France’s support of the idea of preferential treatment is far more determined and detrimental to American interests than is Germany’s”.[Page 348]
I can assure you that the Department appreciates the attentive study which the Legation has given to the general question of preferential treatment, as well as the thorough-going manner in which the Legation has reported thereon to the Department. It has doubtless seemed to you from time to time that we have been somewhat lax in keeping you informed with respect to the Department’s views, but I am sure you will understand that this entire question is one regarding which the Department’s views have crystallized slowly and with considerable reserve. As I indicated in my personal letter to you of June 27, 1932,76 it is not impossible that the Department’s views, in so far as they have already been formulated, may undergo modification if circumstances appear to make this desirable.
Mr. Sussdorff, I note, reports that a Rumanian Foreign Office official recently asked him why the United States Government had “protested” the preferential clauses of the German-Rumanian Commercial Agreement which had not yet entered into effect and had failed to “protest” the preferential clauses of the French Commercial Agreement77 which were already in force. The question is one which would quite naturally present itself to an official in the Rumanian Foreign Office (although in the interest of accuracy it should be stated that the Department does not consider that it protested against the preference clauses but rather that it withheld its acquiescence). I can only tell you with respect to the foregoing inquiry that the question of the preferential clauses of the Franco-Rumanian Agreement is one which the Department still has under consideration. The Department has accordingly given no expression of its views, either in a negative or positive sense, and for the time being there is nothing further that can be said on the subject.
It is of course pertinent to observe that in the case of the German preferences, American rights are specifically covered by a treaty in force between Germany and the United States, whereas American rights in connection with the French preferences are covered only by a modus vivendi,78 upon the basis of which the Department could not, with hope of success, take action similar to that taken with respect to the German preferences. In other words, in the case of the German preferences we simply stood on our treaty rights, whereas in the case of the French preferences the Department would, under present conditions, have to approach the matter from a different angle. While, as you are doubtless aware, negotiations have been initiated for a [Page 349] definitive commercial treaty with France,79 it is too early to state what, if any, effect these negotiations may have upon the question of French preferences.
I shall endeavor to keep you informed of the Department’s views as they are formulated. In the meantime, any further information which you may gather on the subject or any expression of opinion which you may care to make will be appreciated in the Department.