Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Sayre)

The Belgian Ambassador called to see me to discuss the editorial of June 21 in the Washington Post concerning the Montevideo Convention covering most-favored-nation treaties11 and concerning the Ouchy Convention. The Belgian Ambassador is very much interested [Page 77]in the possibility of promoting some kind of a pluri-lateral convention, such as is embodied in the Ouchy Convention, for the progressive horizontal reduction of tariff rates. He said that he had no instructions whatsoever from his Government but came in to discuss the matter with me in a purely personal and informal manner. I told the Ambassador that the State Department was not yet prepared to discuss the Ouchy Convention in the light of the present situation but that I could say to him, speaking purely as an individual, and not as an official of the State Department, that I had in my mind the possibility of the United States proceeding along the line of pluri-lateral bargaining for progressive reductions of tariff under the new tariff bargaining bill, in addition to bilateral bargaining for the reduction of specific tariff rates. (As a matter of fact, I had spoken of this matter to the President on June 12 and the President had replied that he was heartily in favor of the idea). The Belgian Ambassador said that his country would heartily further any efforts in this direction and could be counted on to support the move. He added that in his mind there was no doubt but that Holland and the Scandinavian countries would also join in the move. I told the Ambassador that at present I had someone in the State Department working on the matter and that I did not expect to take the matter up officially until after I had had a chance to study the question in the light of studies which are now being made.

The Ambassador, upon leaving, asked me what it would be possible for us to do with regard to plate glass and the other matters to which he had called attention in his recent note to the State Department.12 I informed him that we were giving attention to these matters and would shortly address a reply to him, but that it did not seem likely that action could be taken in the immediate future. I suggested that I hoped that we could enter into conversations with his Government after further studies had been made looking towards the negotiation of a trade agreement with Belgium.

F[rancis] B. S[ayre]
  1. See Department of State, Conference Series No. 19: Report of the Delegates of the United States of America to the Seventh International Conference of American States, Montevideo, Uruguay, December 3–26, 1933, pp. 57, 275–277; also Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. iv, pp. 8 ff. (text of convention on p. 14).
  2. Not printed.