Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Castle)

The Spanish Ambassador came to see me about the question of the Spanish tariff. He brought with him a telegram from his Government saying that it would be impossible, with the feeling in Spain [Page 548] on account of the non-admission of Almerian grapes, to grant general most-favored-nation treatment unless we would reverse our action on the grapes. I pointed out to him that this was an entirely new issue, went over with him as patiently as possible the note from the Spanish Government agreeing to grant the best terms on such a list as we might submit of exports to Spain and on such supplementary lists as we might furnish from time to time to the Spanish Government. The Ambassador, of course, brought up the matter of the translation of his note, saying that Spain had not promised anything but had merely offered to consider. I told him that any reasonable man would realize that the Spanish note did not say this, but had merely put in diplomatic language its agreement, that Ambassador Laughlin had considered the matter finished, that we had considered the matter finished and that we had accepted, with some difficulty, the Spanish terms, only to find that Spain went back on its own suggestion. The Ambassador said it was obvious that the notes meant that Spain could do this only on condition that it got some relief in American administrative regulations. I pointed out to him that, on the contrary, the agreement was absolutely definite that the two matters should be separated, that the Spanish Government had merely stated it hoped that, after it had granted most favorable treatment to the list submitted by us, we should be able to consider in a very sympathetic way the Spanish grievances and make some readjustments. I said that with difficulty we had done this with regard to the marking of corks, that it was nonsense for him to say that we must also lower the duty on corks as he knew very well that we had no control over the Tariff Commission, that so far as the grapes were concerned this was, as I had said before, a new issue in that Spain had not at first made that any more important than any other issue. I said that, rather than to let grapes into this country which were infested with the Mediterranean fly, I should prefer not to have any trade with Spain.

The Ambassador asked me whether his experts could have another talk with the Department of Agriculture experts on the subject and I promised to speak to Mr. Boal immediately to have such a meeting arranged. I said I had no doubt the Department of Agriculture would be as friendly as possible in the matter, but I knew also that the Department would not compromise if compromise endangered the American position.

I told the Ambassador I was greatly disappointed over the whole situation because the Spanish Government had obviously changed its mind in the matter of the negotiations and that, unless we could accept the word of the Government, it was difficult to get anywhere, [Page 549] that the only result might possibly be the imposition of higher duties in this country on Spanish imports. The Ambassador said that it must not come to this and I answered that it was up to Spain whether it did or not.

The Ambassador said that he and I had always been friends and that he was afraid I was angry with him personally. I told him that this was complete nonsense, that I had always been a friend of his and always intended to be, that I was not complaining about what he had done since everything he had done was obviously under instructions, but that I was complaining about the whole attitude of the Spanish Government.

W. R. Castle, Jr.