The French Ambassador (De Laboulaye) to the Secretary of State



The Journal Officiel of the French Republic of August 10, 1933, published the text of a decree modifying the custom tariffs applicable to certain products of origin in the United States upon their entry into France.

This modification, which could not be made sooner by the French Government due to the fact that the Ministers concerned were absent from Paris, has its origin in the law of July 12, 1933.

The said law, which prescribes changes in the French custom tariff, had the following consequences, as regards American importations into France:

The French general tariff became applicable automatically to a certain number of American goods, through application of the principle whereby advantages authorized unilaterally through a given tariff law, become inoperative in France at the same time as the said law;
The only concessions from which the products of the United States could henceforth benefit upon their entry into France were the ones resulting from tables A and B annexed to the law and the decree of March 29, 1910.

Now, the American articles mentioned in the decree of August 10, 1933, do not appear in said tables. Accordingly those articles, which had enjoyed the minimum and intermediate tariffs, fell under the general tariff.

Only special measures taken by means of a decree could modify this new state of things. This is precisely the object of the decree of August 10, 1933, which authorizes the application to the American goods of the intermediate or minimum tariff.

While informing His Excellency the Secretary of State of this modification, the Ambassador of France desires furthermore to call his attention to the fact that the French Government has seen fit up to the present time to postpone the application of the exchange surtax to American products entering France, in spite of the premium on exportation enjoyed by the American exporters due to the depreciation of the dollar, especially as regards automobiles and parts, machine tools, etc., and in spite of the repeated requests by numerous French industrialists for whom the American importations constitute serious competition.

It goes without saying that this attitude of the French Government is no prediction of its future course and that it might be modified if the safeguarding of French national production rendered it necessary.

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Besides, the American Government has not contested the French Government’s right to apply the surtax on importation. Nevertheless, up to the present the French Government, which risks finding itself in difficulties with foreign countries whose situation is analogous to that of the United States and to which the said surtax is already applied, has not felt that it should make use of this right so far as concerns American products. In so acting, it wished to view the question from the highest viewpoint and to give an effective proof of its desire to avoid, as far as possible, taking any step, even though justifiable, which might in one way or another complicate the work of economic adjustment undertaken by President Roosevelt.