710.G Commercial Agreement/19

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Sayre)

The question having been raised whether European countries might be deterred from signing the Agreement to refrain from the use of [Page 9]the most favored nation clause recently opened for signature by the Pan American Union because of its origin in a regional Conference, Mr. Sayre asked Prince de Ligne, Chargé d’Affaires of Belgium, to call at his office and discuss the matter with him. Mr. Culbertson of the Western European Division, and Mr. McClure of Assistant Secretary Sayre’s office, were present at the discussion.

Prince de Ligne, after the matter had been presented to him, offered to suggest to the Belgian Government that it should bring the subject of the Pan American Agreement before the Assembly of the League of Nations. The object would be to obtain a recommendation from the Assembly that Members of the League of Nations should become parties to the Agreement. In this way, any atmosphere of regionalism which may linger about the Agreement might be dissipated.

In the course of discussion, Prince de Ligne expressed a desire for something concrete and definite which he might telegraph to his Government. A draft for a possible Resolution, which the Belgian Government might, should it so desire, introduce into the Assembly of the League of Nations, the 1934 session of which begins on September 10, was accordingly prepared. This draft is as follows:

“The Assembly,

“having taken note of the fact that the Pan American Union has opened for signature at Washington an agreement the parties to which will refrain from invoking the most-favored-nation clause in bilateral agreements for the purpose of obtaining the benefits of multilateral economic conventions which are of general applicability, which include a trade area of substantial size, which have as their objective the liberalization and promotion of international economic intercourse, and which are open to adoption by all countries,

“recalling that the Economic Committee of the League of Nations has, in principle, considered favorably the adoption of such an agreement,

“appreciating the importance of the said agreement in effectuating the policy of the Governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands as signatories of the Ouchy Convention,4

“taking note of the fact that the delegation of the United States brought forward a similar proposal at the World Economic Conference in London, 1933,5 and later in the same year introduced the proposal at the Seventh International Conference of American States at Montevideo, and

“acting upon the understanding that invitations to become parties to the aforesaid agreement have been issued to all of the countries of the world,

“Recommends that the States members of the League of Nations act favorably upon the invitation and become parties to the agreement.”

[Page 10]

Prince de Ligne appeared to be pleased with the opportunity to make this suggestion. Mr. Sayre emphasized the desirability of avoiding any impression that it came officially from the United States Government, saying that the discussion was wholly informal and personal.

F[rancis] B. S[ayre]
  1. See Department of State, Treaty Information, Bulletin No. 37, October 1932, pp. 16–23.
  2. For correspondence concerning this Conference, see Foreign Relations, 1933, vol. i, pp. 452 ff.