The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 2.]
Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that, by a Note dated March 8 , 1933, the Resident General of France, as Minister for Foreign Affairs of His Sherifian Majesty, has requested this Diplomatic Agency to render applicable to American nationals and ressortissants the provisions of a Sherifian Dahir and of a Vizirial Decree, both dated February 6, 1933, concerning the conditions under which services, for the transport of passengers by motor omnibus, may be operated in the French Zone of Morocco.
Copies, in the French text and in English translation, of M. Lucien Saint’s Note, and of the Dahir and Vizirial Decree therein referred to,14 are annexed to this despatch.
The Dahir and decree in question purport to provide for the protection of the traveling public, and the legislation is therefore deserving of our cooperation, insofar as it may be designed to promote technical supervision of the conditions of safety of the motor vehicles used, and control of the competency of the personnel employed, and also to require that the responsibilities and obligations of the carriers should be effectively guaranteed by means of sufficient insurance contracted with reliable underwriters.
It will be obvious, however, that the terms of the regulations go beyond these laudable objects, and that while dealing with them the Protectorate legislators avail themselves of the opportunity for the further pursuit of their policy to break down the treaty conditions of liberty of commercial and industrial enterprise without unequality in Morocco.
A perusal of the articles of the vizirial decree (1, 2, 3, 6 and 7) which concern the powers of the commission constituted for the purpose of controlling passenger motor omnibus services in the French Zone, will be sufficient to justify the apprehension, already alluded to in my No. 819 of March 2, 1933,15 as to the danger of arbitrary restriction of the freedom of competition in regard to such enterprises.
The commission is composed exclusively of functionaries, necessarily of French nationality, and it is given wide and arbitrary powers in regard to the grant, refusal or withdrawal of permits for the establishment of transportation lines. Appeals from the decisions of the [Page 974] commission may be made only to the heads of the departments from which the members of the commission receive their appointment.
The veritable purpose of the legislation—the arbitrary control and limitation of competition in enterprises for the motor omnibus conveyance of passengers—is so obvious from the terms of article 6 of the vizirial decree, that mere reference thereto, without further analysis would appear sufficient to enlist the Department’s condemnation of these provisions.
The commission is not required to make known its reasons for declining to issue transportation licenses. It may refuse to license any American car, and grant license to any French car for the same run.
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As was pointed out in my No. 819 of March 2, 1933, similar legislation is to be extended, in the near future, to motor transportation of goods, and restriction or elimination of motor vehicle competition with railroads is the objective principally to be pursued.
The control of passenger and merchandise transport exercised by the commission referred to in the vizirial decree will undoubtedly place, in the hands of the C.T.M. and its affiliates, complete control of automotive transport in the Protectorate, and it may be foreseen that this French group will acquire power to exclude from the Moroccan market, in an important measure, American trucks and automotive equipment, such as tires, gasoline, and lubricants.
In the circumstances, it is assumed that my reply to the Note of the Resident General should, in substance, be to the following effect:
“The Department is prepared to cooperate to the fullest extent with the Protectorate authorities in promoting the security of the traveling public in Morocco. To such end, all American ressortissants who may operate or intend operating motor omnibus services for the transportation of passengers by road, shall be required to comply with regulations concerning a periodical certification, by competent experts, of the proper condition of the vehicle used, and give proof of the competency of the driving personnel, and shall be bound to carry adequate insurance to cover the responsibilities which are referred to in the vizirial decree under discussion.
“It would appear, however, that the dahir and vizirial decree in question may be construed to give the Transport Commission’ powers of an arbitrary nature which would enable it, at its discretion, to control, regulate, or even to eliminate free competition in the matter of enterprise for the transportation of passengers by motor omnibus.
“Since these conditions appear to be contrary to the principles of economic liberty without unequality laid down by the treaties, the Department regrets that it is compelled to refuse to assent to the enforcement upon American ressortissants of the regulations in question, in their present form.”
In the meanwhile, the American Consul at Casablanca will be requested to keep a vigilant observation over the application of the regulations, and promptly to report any decisions of the “Transport Commission” which may discriminate against non-American transport enterprises by reason of their employment of American equipment.
Such cases will immediately be brought to the attention of the Department, because it is believed that for the safeguard not only of the principle involved, but of important American interests which are jeopardized, firm and persistent action should not be relaxed in any instance until complete satisfaction shall be obtained.
Unless and until the regulations are amended in such manner as to receive the Department’s assent, American ressortissants will, of course, continue to be free to establish and to operate motor omnibus services for passengers, subject to the conditions above stated in reference to the safety of the traveling public and the responsibilities of the carriers.