Memorandum Left at the Department of State by the Colombian Minister (Lozano), September 2, 1933


In the memorandum handed to the Minister of Colombia by the Department of State, there is expressed a desire to call attention to certain commercial data which throw light upon the schedules which are included with the treaty and which constitute a part thereof.

In our opinion, the said schedules treat certain factors in an isolated way. It is necessary to take into consideration essential economic [Page 229] factors of the countries which are going to make an agreement; the figures shown by the volume of imports in some previous years, particularly considered between Colombia and the United States. Nor is it possible to lose sight of the significance for Colombia and the United States of certain figures representing the products exported from Colombia to the United States.

The following ideas constitute a synthesis of the reason for the counter-proposal which is suggested.

1. Every commercial treaty, inasmuch as it is a bilateral pact between two nations, not only should aim at a greater rapprochement between them, but also should seek the reciprocal development of the two countries, so that there ought to be reciprocal concessions not involving prejudicial results for either of the contracting parties.

2. The Republic of Colombia has intensified with admirable success the production of foodstuffs of the first necessity, and, it being considered, furthermore, that she is distinctly an agricultural country, it is not possible to accept reductions in the customs rates which can affect in any way her agricultural growth.

3. It should not be lost to view that, as the Republic of Colombia is a country whose economic prosperity depends especially on the success of her agriculture and of essential industries which have been undergoing development with excellent results, any customs measure that would permit the economic weakening of the country by the ruin of her agriculture or of her industries will, incidentally, injure American commerce, because it will end by reducing appreciably her consumption capacity, and her purchases abroad will thereby be diminished in the same proportions. Likewise it should be borne in mind that both the nation and various official entities have in existence loan obligations to the United States, and that it is necessary to secure the economic improvement of the Republic in order that she may continue to be capable of carrying out her obligations.

4. It is necessary to consider that in the volume of articles of export from Colombia to the United States there appear articles whose product does not really enter the country, as occurs, for example, in the case of petroleum and bananas, it not being possible, consequently, to accept in a general form the abstract result shown by the comparative figures of the commercial interchange between the United States and Colombia.

5. It is necessary to consider that from 1927 to 1930—a period of great commercial movement and apparent prosperity, and a period in which the volume of imports into Colombia reached very important figures—the percentage relating to the importation from the United States presents the following indices: [Page 230]

1927 44.89%
1928 44.59%
1929 45.94%
1930 45.41%
1931 44.33%
1932 42.10%

6. The percentage index of importations from the United States in 1932 clearly shows that it is not possible to take isolated figures corresponding to certain articles in the volume of imports. The total volume of imports by Colombia must be considered, for while it is true that owing to the restrictions introduced in Colombia’s tariff, the importation of certain articles has diminished appreciably, it is also true that the ensemble of the articles imported by Colombia from the United States has kept the same index, which shows that while exports from the United States to Colombia have been reduced as regards certain articles or goods, on the other hand, the volume of importation of other articles derived from the United States has increased proportionately.

7. It is interesting to compare the index of the proportion of imports into Colombia from the United States, Germany, and Great Britain, in order to draw the conclusion that the greatest volume of our import commerce has always been with the United States.

Year United States Great Britain Germany
1925 50.05% 22.54% 9.66%
1926 48.67% 16.88% 13.02%
1927 44.89% 15.01% 13.93%
1928 44.59% 12.64% 15.60%
1929 45.94% 14.40% 14.42%
1930 45.41% 12.42% 12.88%

8. It must also be taken into account that the greater part of the articles exported by Colombia to the United States are products of first necessity which are not produced in the United States and which because of the existing tariff provisions are on the same footing of equality with the same products proceeding from other countries which may or may not have the same volume and the same proportion of imports as articles proceeding from the United States.

9. The purchasing and consumption capacity of a country cannot be maintained in commercial interchange with another country at an absolute balance since there enter into play economic factors which are of fundamental importance, such as the total number of inhabitants, the wealth of the country, and the supply and demand of certain articles.

10. It must be taken into consideration that in the Republic of Colombia the customs revenues constitute the principal income of the [Page 231] national budget and, therefore, any change which affects the tariff would also cause a lack of balance in the budget because of the diminishing of the flow of income into the treasury from customs duties. It is well understood that the fiscal organization of a country depends on the balancing of its budget, and the Republic of Colombia desires not to change her line of conduct of tending consistently to obtain effective and balanced figures in the operation of her budgets.

11. The Republic of Colombia desires to render firmer and closer her commercial relations with the United States of America, and on this occasion, in order to demonstrate this in an effective and palpable form, she offers to effect a reduction in her tariff rates, particularly on articles and manufactured products typically pertaining to the commerce of the United States, it being considered that the tariff reduction in the form offered and approximately in the proportion indicated in the memorandum presented by the Government of the United States, will secure the benefits and advantages to which the Government of the United States aspires.

12. In Schedule No. 1,13 reference is made to the statistics corresponding to the imports in the year 1930 for the reason that in the said year there appears a median figure between the high imports of Colombia in the years 1927, 1928 and 1929 and the reduced imports in the years 1931 and 1932. Possibly the reductions offered by Colombia will bring into effect, as a consequence, the new tariff proposal assuring a volume of importation not inferior to that of 1930. At the same time it is necessary to take into consideration the fact that in the year 1930 the new provisions of the Colombian customs tariff which were promulgated in the year 1931 had not yet gone into effect, and that they had as an immediate and visible consequence the very appreciable reduction of imports into Colombia.

13. As the Republic of Colombia desires to increase her exports to the United States of certain articles which do not appear to injure the economy of the United States, it is requested that in Schedule No. 213 submitted by the American Government there be included certain articles or goods which are produced or which may be produced in Colombia to an amount sufficient for exportation, and which will thus create a new economic factor favorable to the two countries.


Colombian Counterdraft of the Reciprocal Trade Agreement

The President of the Republic of Colombia and the President of the Republic of the United States of America, desiring to promote [Page 232] trade between the two nations, have arrived at the following agreement:

Article I

The Republic of Colombia and the United States of America reciprocally agree to grant each other the concessions that are stipulated in this agreement in compensation for the mutual advantages which the two states grant each other and which are set forth in this agreement.

Article II

The articles and products enumerated in Schedule 1 shall pay as customs duties, for their importation into the Republic of Colombia, the rate set forth and fixed in the said Schedule 1, which forms a part of this agreement.

Customs duties and import charges are understood, as between the contracting parties, to include only the charges indicated in the tariff schedule and the respective modifications thereof.

The present rate of municipal duties and other taxes which affect the articles specified and described in Schedule 1 and which are not also imposed on products of the soil or industry of Colombia cannot be increased. It is understood that, in the case of municipalities where taxes have not been established that affect the said articles and which may be established in accordance with the law, such municipalities shall have the right to establish such taxes similar or equal to those already established in other municipalities, provided that the rate that may be fixed does not exceed the rates at present established, which shall be the highest rates that may be established. Likewise there shall be no increase in the United States in the rates of municipal taxes or in other taxes that may affect the articles enumerated in Schedule 2, nor shall the taxes that may be established in the future exceed the rate of the present taxes, nor shall municipal or other taxes be established on articles specified in Schedule 2, different from those already established. On the articles described in Schedule 1, the Republic of Colombia may establish customs duties different from those specified in the said table on imports the trade-marks of which do not indicate precisely the place of origin or which may be sold at less than the cost of production.

Article III

The articles and products of the industry or the soil of the Republic of Colombia, described in the annexed Schedule 2 and which forms an integral part of this agreement, when imported into the United States of America shall be exempt from all customs duties or import taxes of any kind in excess of those that may be fixed in the said Schedule, [Page 233] with the exception of certain special duties required by law which may be imposed on imports the trade-marks of which do not precisely indicate the place of origin or which have been sold at less than the cost of production.

Article IV

It is agreed between the Republic of Colombia and the United States of America that every favor, privilege or exemption relating to customs duties, to commerce and navigation in general, and to all matters concerning the regulations, proceedings, charges or taxes in connection with the clearance of merchandise in customs houses which may have been granted or may be granted in the future by one of the contracting parties to another nation, shall be extended to the other contracting party, which shall enjoy the same benefits freely and immediately if the concession was made freely and without restrictions, or shall grant the same compensation or other equivalent if the concession was conditional. However, the advantages that are now conceded or may be subsequently granted to other contiguous countries for the purpose of facilitating traffic on the frontiers and the advantages that may result from customs unions concluded or which may be subsequently concluded by either of the contracting parties, shall be exempt from the effects of this article. This article shall not apply with respect to police or sanitary regulations or with regard to the commerce of the United States of America with the Republic of Cuba, the Panama Canal Zone, the Philippine Islands or any territory or possession of the United States or with respect to the commerce of the territories or possessions of the United States with each other.

Article V

As compensation for the reciprocal concessions made by the two contracting parties to each other, it is agreed that provisions shall not be adopted either in the Republic of Colombia or in the United States of America, which prohibit, limit, or in any way restrict or may restrict the volume of imports into one of the contracting countries with respect to articles, products, or manufactures originating in the soil or the industry of the other contracting country.

Regulations or laws in force or which are passed or may be passed in each contracting country relative to imports of articles or merchandise, having to do with cases of hygiene or sanitary conditions or of public order or safety shall be exempt from this provision.

Article VI

This agreement shall modify any other previous agreement concluded between the contracting parties, only with respect to such provisions as are not compatible with the stipulations that are made to-day by this agreement.

[Page 234]

Article VII

The present agreement shall come into force on the day on which the Presidents of the Republic of Colombia and of the United States shall have notified each other that the exemptions from and reductions in the customs duties stipulated and any changes in the laws and regulations of the two contracting nations which may be necessary to give effect to this agreement, are in force respectively in the appropriate part in each of the two contracting republics. This agreement shall remain in effect for one year after one of the contracting parties shall indicate to the other its desire to terminate it, by means of a notice which shall be given in writing to the respective chancellery.

Done at Washington, in duplicate in the Spanish and English languages, both of which shall be considered authoritative, to-day the . . . . . of . . . . . . . . . . .

In witness whereof, the duly authorized representatives of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Colombia and of His Excellency the President of the Republic of the United States of America have affixed their signatures.

For the President of the United States of America
For the President of the Republic of Colombia
  1. File translation revised.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. File translation revised.