883.512 Motor Vehicles/21

The Minister in Egypt (Jardine) to the Secretary of State

No. 518

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 497 of June 1, 1932,48 and previous despatches regarding the restrictions imposed upon the operation of commercial motor vehicles in Egypt, and to transmit herewith a copy of Note No. 268 of June 13, 1932, on this subject, which I handed personally to the Minister for Foreign Affairs on that date.

Similar action has been or is being taken by my French, Italian and Greek colleagues. There is enclosed a copy of the French note, together with a suggested translation, the Italian and Greek Notes following substantially the same text.49

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[Page 645]

There is enclosed a record of my conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs on June 13th, during which it may be observed the Minister made the interesting and significant admission that one of the purposes of the restrictive measures imposed by the Government was that of enabling monopolies or concessions to be granted for truck and bus transportation. There is thus obtained for the first time official confirmation of an intention of the Government which I had previously reported to the Department as doubtless inspiring in part the application of the restrictive measures imposed recently.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Respectfully yours,

W. M. Jardine
[Enclosure 1]

The American Legation to the Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs

No. 268

The Legation of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Royal Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and has the honor to refer to its Note No. 236 of March 31, 1932, in which the Royal Ministry was requested to be good enough to call the attention of the Ministry of Communications to the inapplicability, in so far as concerns American nationals, of Ministerial Decree No. 17 of February 29, 1932,50 having to do with the conditions affecting the circulation of automotive vehicles intended for public hire, as well as to the serious prejudice caused American nationals by its application.

The Legation has not as yet received any reply regarding this question of outstanding importance to its nationals, and the complaints which continue to be received warrant the conclusion that the measures in question are still being applied to its nationals. Moreover, the Legation has been called upon to consider protests concerning the payment of a tax by the Department of Roads and Bridges which has been collected from owners of motor vehicles intended for the transportation of merchandise. Since the application of such a tax to American nationals has not been sanctioned by the Government of the United States of America, the Legation of the United States of America cannot admit the application of it to its nationals.

The Legation is persuaded that, in the light of the foregoing, the Royal Ministry for Foreign Affairs will desire to intervene with the Ministry of Communications in order that measures which have practically estopped the freedom of circulation of commercial motor vehicles, thereby infringing upon the liberty of commerce recognized [Page 646] by accords in force and consecrated by custom, will cease to be applied to its nationals.

It would hardly appear necessary for the Legation to observe in this connection that the solution which may be reached of the question under reference cannot but affect consideration of such eventual modifications as may be proposed of the legislative regime in this matter.

The Legation of the United States of America avails itself, etc.

[Enclosure 2]

Memorandum by the Third Secretary of the Legation in Egypt (Merriam)

I accompanied the Minister to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this morning, where he presented a second note regarding the restrictive regulations on the circulation of automobile trucks and busses, acting as interpreter during the interview.

Mr. Jardine first spoke of his purpose in calling and then observed that he had received no reply to his first note on this subject. He said that in itself the problem did not seem to be a difficult one but that gradually it was assuming more and more importance because, while the Government had taken no action, the situation of persons in the automobile business was becoming more and more difficult.

Yehia Pasha said that the first note on the subject had been duly transmitted to the competent authorities but that no reply had been received. When it arrived it would be promptly communicated. He said that the Government was spending large sums of money for the construction and maintenance of roads and that it was necessary to raise funds for this purpose by taxing automobiles; that money so raised would be used exclusively for road construction and maintenance.

Mr. Jardine replied that it was not now a question of taxation. He personally was inclined to be sympathetic to increased taxation if fairly applied, but until the repressive and discriminatory regulations now in force were removed it would be most difficult for him to give favorable consideration to such proposals. Automobiles already paid large sums in customs duties; under present conditions once they were in the country, duty paid, they were not allowed to circulate and consequently could not be sold by the importers.

Yehia Pasha said the Government could not allow trucks and busses to circulate on the highways to an indefinite number, many of them in unsafe condition, maintained and operated by persons or [Page 647] concerns on a shoestring basis without adequate financial or moral responsibility. This was unsafe for the passengers and unsafe for the pedestrians. Frightful accidents had continually been happening to both. It was the Government’s intention to grant bus and truck concessions for all the important roads of Egypt to companies who would give adequate guarantees for the proper exploitation of the routes.

Mr. Jardine asked whether such concessions were to be granted to one or two favored companies as had been the case in the few concessions granted thus far. If that should be the policy, American companies would be absolutely finished.

Yehia Pasha replied that bids for the routes would be asked for, and that concessions would be granted without favoritism.

Gordon P. Merriam
  1. Not printed.
  2. None printed.
  3. Egypt, Journal Officiel, No. 17, 29 février 1932.