The Minister in Bulgaria (Shoemaker) to the Secretary of State

No. 452

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s despatch No. 451, of June 27, 1932,1 reporting the signing of the Bulgaro-German treaty of commerce and navigation,2 and to solicit instructions as to the method the Department desires to adopt to meet the situation resulting from the fact that the Bulgaro-German treaty provides for reduced tariff rates on German industrial products imported into Bulgaria and that there exists no formal agreement between Bulgaria and the United States on the basis of which the reduced rates established by the Bulgaro-German treaty may be claimed for American imports into Bulgaria.

It will be recalled that Mr. Wilson,3 acting on the Department’s instruction No. 153, of December 1, 19251 file No. 674.0031/2, and after ascertaining from the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs that the Bulgarian Government was favorable in principle to a commercial treaty with the United States, left with the Secretary General of the Bulgarian Foreign Office, on December 28, 1925, a copy of the German-American commercial treaty,4 to be examined as a possible basis for a commercial treaty between the United States and Bulgaria. Subsequent inquiries made at the Foreign Office on the subject of a treaty of commerce with the United States, the latest of which appears to have been that reported in Mr. Kodding’s despatch No. 1433, of February 11, 1929,1 revealed the fact that Bulgaria was not ready to conclude treaties of commerce with non-limitrophe states. In consequence, [Page 142] and as most favored nation treatment was continuing to be extended to American products, despite the lapse on August 9, 1925, of the provisions of Chapter I of the economic clauses of the Treaty of Neuilly7 and of Article 152 of Chapter II to the same section of the Treaty of Neuilly, the matter of a treaty of commerce with the United States has never been pressed.

Now that Bulgaria has signed a commercial treaty with Germany which provides for tariff reductions, it would seem to be desirable, if not essential, that our commercial relations with Bulgaria be placed upon firmer ground than a verbal assurance of most favored nation treatment, especially as the more important American imports into Bulgaria compete with German products which will doubtless benefit by reduced tariff rates under the Bulgaro-German treaty, notably, industrial machinery and tools, office equipment such as typewriters and adding machines, and agricultural machinery and implements. In consequence a member of my staff has today made inquiries concerning most favored nation treatment for American products of Mr. Watcheff, the Chief of the Consular Section of the Bulgarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Bulgarian representative who signed the Bulgaro-German treaty. Mr. Watcheff is also the functionary who back in the early days of 1926 was charged with the study of the German-American treaty. He said that from the Bulgarian point of view there would be no objection to the conclusion in the near future of a most favored nation agreement with the United States, either in the form of a treaty of commerce and navigation, such as the treaty between the United States and Germany, or by an exchange of notes. He said that it was his personal opinion that the Bulgarian Government would prefer to proceed on the basis of the proposal made by Mr. Wilson for a full treaty of commerce and navigation and that although he is leaving in a few days for a month’s vacation he is certain that such a treaty could be signed before the treaty with Germany comes into force, which he does not anticipate will be before late autumn, in view of the fact that the Bulgarian Parliament will adjourn on July 1.

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Respectfully yours,

Henry W. Shoemaker
  1. Not printed.
  2. Signed at Sofia, June 24, 1932, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cxlvii, p. 211; English translation, p. 265.
  3. Charles S. Wilson, then Minister in Bulgaria.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Treaty between the United States and Germany, signed at Washington, December 8, 1923, Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. ii, p. 29.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Signed November 27, 1919, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxii, p. 781.