The Siamese Minister (Prince Damras) to the Secretary of State

Sir: I am instructed by His Majesty’s Government to inform Your Excellency that there are certain provisions in the existing Treaty of Friendship and Commerce,1 which His Majesty’s Government desires to have modified.

The Treaty with the United States was the first of a series of revisions of older treaties which imposed restrictions upon customs duties and granted extraterritorial rights to aliens. The last revision of the so-called unequal treaties was completed in 1926. None of the new treaties was for a longer period than ten years. In order to secure the elimination of the restriction upon its fiscal and jurisdictional autonomy, His Majesty’s Government accepted in many of the new treaties certain provisions which it otherwise would have been unwilling to agree to. It has always been the intention of His Majesty’s Government to secure the elimination or modification of such provisions. It had intended to take up these modifications during 1936, the year in which the important treaties with France,2 England3 and Italy4 were subject to abrogation. There are, however, in Article 3 of the American Treaty, certain limitations upon the freedom of His Majesty’s Government with regard to the creation of monopolies, which do not exist in other treaties and which His Majesty’s Government considers of sufficient immediate importance to compel it to ask for a revision at this time rather than to wait until 1936. Since it is necessary to consider a revision now, it decided to request consideration of every change in the treaty which seemed to it desirable. There are also three other articles which His Majesty’s Government prefers to have modified.

I will indicate the provisions to which my Government has objection and the nature of the modifications which it desires.

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1. The second paragraph of Article 3 contains in substance a prohibition upon the establishment of “any monopoly or ‘farm’ for the profit either of the Government or of a private individual or organization” except “as regards spirituous, distilled or fermented drinks or alcoholic liquors or alcohol, and opium and the derivatives thereof and cocaine, heroin and other narcotic drugs, included within the scope of the International Opium Convention signed at the Hague, January 23, 1912,5 and arms and ammunition.” No other treaty now existing between His Majesty’s Government and other governments includes any such prohi[bi]tion.

In most of the treaties there are provisions that no prohibitions or restrictions shall be placed on the importation or exportation of any article of commerce between the two countries, with certain exceptions which include prohibitions or restrictions upon articles which are or may hereafter become the object of state monopoly. His Majesty’s Government desires that Article 3 of the Treaty should be modified to bring it into accord with its other treaties.

2. Paragraph 4 of Article 1 of the Treaty imposes limitations upon the right of His Majesty’s Government in time of war to requisition property owned by American citizens or companies. In Siam practically all stocks of commodities are owned by aliens or alien companies, since most of the import and export trade, and the wholesale and a considerable part of the retail trade is in the hands of aliens. Obviously His Majesty’s Government might be seriously embarrassed if it were restricted by its treaties so that it could not requisition commodities urgently needed for war purposes.

The Treaty ratified with Germany in 1928,6 and the Treaty with Switzerland ratified in 1931,7 impose no limitations upon the power to requisition property. The treaties with Belgium,8 Netherlands9 and Sweden10 permit national treatment with regard to the requisition of property. The other treaties, like the Treaty with the United States, contain provisions prohibiting the requisition of property for war purposes.

It is the purpose of His Majesty’s Government to secure, as soon as possible, the elimination from all its treaties of any restriction on its right to requisition property for war purposes. Accordingly it desires to have Paragraph 4 of Article 1 modified.

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3. Article 7 grant[s] fiscal autonomy to His Majesty’s Government upon two conditions, (1) that the United States is entitled to “equality of treatment” with other nations with regard to customs duties and taxes, and (2) that all other nations entitled to claim special tariff treatment in Siam assent to increases freely without the requirement of any compensatory benefit or privilege.

All other treaties which were revised between 1920 and 1926 contain an article which is similar in substance and in many cases in form to that of Article 7. With the exception, however, of the Treaty with the United States all these treaties contain a separate additional article which guarantees reciprocal most favored nation treatment with regard to customs duties and formalities.

It is obvious that the result of the Article 7 is to impose upon His Majesty’s Government the obligation to grant most favored nation treatment to the United States with regard to customs, but imposed no obligation upon the Government of the United States to grant most favored nation treatment to His Majesty’s Government. While this inequality in the Treaty has so far been of no practical concern, His Majesty’s Government naturally desires to secure the elimination of this unilateral obligation.

4. Paragraph 3 of Article 13 grant[s] most favored nation treatment to consular officers and agents with regard to all power, honors, privileges and exemptions and immunities of every kind. This provision is contained in all the existing treaties between His Majesty’s Government and other governments except the last two treaties negotiated recently with the German Government and the Government of Switzerland. In these two treaties most favored nation treatment with regard to consular privileges, etc., is limited by the provision that neither of the contracting parties shall claim thereunder for its consular officers and agents, more extensive honors, privileges, etc., than it grants to the consular officers of the other party.

His Majesty’s Government considers this conditional form of the most favored nation treatment more desirable.

His Majesty’s Government has requested Mr. Raymond B. Stevens, the Adviser in Foreign Affairs, who is now in Washington, to conduct with the State Department negotiations for the modification of these four articles of the Treaty, and Mr. Stevens is prepared to take up negotiations at the convenience of the State Department. Since he is planning to return soon to Siam, I express the hope that it will be possible to come to some decision on the points in question in the near future.

I have [etc.]

  1. Treaty and protocol between the United States and Siam, signed at Washington, December 16, 1920, Foreign Relations, 1921, vol. ii, p. 867.
  2. Signed at Paris, February 14, 1925, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. xliii, p. 189.
  3. Signed at London, July 14, 1925, ibid., vol. xlix, pp. 29, 51.
  4. Signed at Rome, May 9, 1926, ibid., vol. lxi, p. 215.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1912, p. 196.
  6. Signed at Bangkok, April 7, 1928, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. lxxxv, p. 337.
  7. Signed at Tokyo, May 28, 1931, ibid., vol. cxxv, p. 357.
  8. Signed at Bangkok, July 13, 1926, ibid., vol. lxii, p. 287.
  9. Signed at The Hague, June 8, 1925, ibid., vol. lvi, p. 57.
  10. Signed at Stockholm, December 19, 1925, ibid., vol. lviii, p. 429.