Memorandum by Mr. Hugh G. Grant of the Division of Western European Affairs to the Under Secretary of State (Phillips)
A series of despatches received from Mr. Blake, Diplomatic Agent at Tangier, during recent months indicates that France, through her Resident General in Morocco, M. Ponsot, is laying plans for determined [Page 851] effort to consolidate her position in the Protectorate of Morocco. Mr. Blake is very definitely of the opinion that the French plan to make of Morocco a colonial possession, with all that this implies, i. e., complete commercial domination and monopoly of trade, as well as civil and military control, the latter having already been achieved.
To substantiate his thesis, Mr. Blake has, in a long series of despatches, some of which date back to 1921, cited numerous instances of violations by the French authorities of both the spirit and the letter of the Act of Algeciras and the treaties. From time to time he has filed protests with the French authorities of the Protectorate and in some cases these protests have been followed up by the Department by means of instructions to the Embassy in Paris. The protests for the most part have been ignored or else evasive replies have been made. The so-called “classic case” of the Dahir of June 6, 1929, which prohibited the importation into Morocco of foreign wheat and flour in contravention of specific treaty rights is a case in question. Protest lodged with the French Foreign Minister in Paris remains today unanswered, although an evasive reply, highly unsatisfactory, was made to the American Diplomatic Agent in Morocco, and the Dahir remains in effect today.
The persistent policy of the French Protectorate Government, according to Mr. Blake, is to break down international, economic, and commercial liberty in Morocco, to favor French trade, and particularly to promote the interests of certain French financial groups which seek and have to a large extent obtained exclusive control over the basic and vital industrial and commercial enterprises of the Protectorate.
The French argument, as set forth by M. Ponsot, is that France has made great sacrifices for the internal development of Morocco and that the unfavorable balance of trade in Morocco should be corrected in the interest of Morocco. It is alleged further that “dumping,” particularly by the Japanese, is a menace to Moroccan trade.
In reply to this thesis, it may be pointed out that the French are well compensated for the money they have expended in Morocco by the use of Moroccan troops to help her fight her battles in times of emergency, as for instance in the World War; that the alleged “dumping” cheap merchandise argument is a mere pretext of the French, who seek to obtain the power of monopoly of trade.
Apparently, the “new deal” program in the French Protectorate, mentioned by Ambassador Laboulaye, refers to the French effort to obtain full commercial domination of the Protectorate and at the same time a surrender of the capitulatory rights held by the United States and Great Britain. Certainly such a program would bring to final and complete conclusion the consolidation of French interests in Morocco. With reference to the proposed surrender of capitulatory [Page 852] rights, a despatch from Mr. Blake of July 12, 1934,24 indicates that this matter was broached by M. Ponsot in a conversation with the Diplomatic Agent. Mr. Blake informed M. Ponsot that he failed to perceive how the American courts were in any way inimical to the full realization of the legitimate aspirations of France in Morocco. It is pointed out further that the abrogation of such rights would involve the necessity of the conclusion of new substitute treaties to embody and confirm the rights under the original treaties, and any special legislation of course would require the advice and consent of the United States Senate. The further point was made that the question of capitulatory rights involved also our relations in the Spanish Zone of Morocco, as well as in the French Zone.
Summarizing, it would appear that the French are at least suggesting concessions of great magnitude from the United States in the French Protectorate and are offering nothing in return.
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