681.003/90: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Spain ( Bowers )

65. In re your despatch 559, November 13, and Tangier’s 943, May 31, copy of which was forwarded to the Embassy, regarding imposition by the Spanish authorities in Morocco of new taxes on imported goods, you are requested to confer with the appropriate authorities of the Spanish Government, and make formal protest against the levying of consumption taxes which constitute “a special importation tax on imported goods” on wheat, flour and other commodities imported into the Spanish Zone of Morocco as listed in your 559, on the ground that this levy discriminates between imported and domestic products and constitutes a potential danger of complete destruction of the open market, which is a violation of the treaties and of the Act of Algeciras.

You are requested also to bring forcibly to the attention of the Spanish authorities the conditions inimical to the interests of the United States in the Spanish Zone, as reported by Blake in his 944, June 1,41 copy of which was forwarded to the Embassy, in which it [Page 875] is averred that there have been violations of the treaties in the Spanish Zone, disregard of commercial liberty and abusive treatment by the local Spanish authorities of the interests and persons of American protéges, threatening of trial and imprisonment of American ressortissants, the placing of embargoes on their effects, and the closing of their establishments, which is in violation of American extraterritorial jurisdiction.

In the light of the breaking down of the modus vivendi between the United States and Spain in the Spanish Zone, as reported by Blake in his 909 of January 26,41a copy of which was forwarded to the Embassy, you are also requested to call upon the Spanish Government to define its position in regard to a correction of the present situation through settlement of the outstanding American claims and recognition of the Spanish Zone of Morocco by this Government, as agreed upon by the two governments in 1928.42

In the light of the recent French proposal for a complete modification of the customs regime in Morocco, which confidentially we are advised on good authority are receiving the blessing of the Spanish Government, and which ostensibly would be made applicable to the Spanish as well as the French Zone, you are requested to discreetly inform the Spanish authorities that, as we see it, the proposed plan would substitute for the principle of the open door a system of contingents, that quota systems are inherently discriminatory and the institution of such a system in Morocco would constitute a violation of the principle of commercial equality in the whole of Morocco as guaranteed in the treaties.

Please cable brief summary of the Spanish attitude as revealed in your conversations with the authorities, submitting complete report by pouch.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1928, vol iii, pp. 344 ff.