The American Technical Advisers (Nufer, Donnelly, and Turkel) to the Ambassador in Cuba (Caffery)36

Subject: Form of the Revised Reciprocity Treaty.

When Mr. Nufer was in Washington the question arose as to the form of the revised reciprocity treaty with Cuba. It was suggested that it might be preferable to limit the treaty primarily to changes in duty preferences and to the binding of maximum rates on specified articles, and for the Cuban Government to put into effect, prior to the date of the treaty, a decree-law which would make all the agreed-upon changes in duty rates, classifications and nomenclature.

This decree-law would represent a revision of the present Cuban Customs Tariff, and the tariff as thus revised would be the one on which the treaty would be based. Obviously, this decree-law, or tariff revision, would provide no changes in the present duty preferentials, which would be covered by the revised treaty.

The alternative to this would be to embody in the treaty itself all the changes in duty rates, nomenclature and classification agreed upon in the course of our discussions with the Cuban delegates.

During the discussion in Washington it was suggested to Mr. Nufer that we approach the Cuban delegates informally in this matter in order to ascertain what would be their attitude toward these two methods. The Cuban delegates, speaking informally and unofficially at [Page 137] a conference held on April 30, were unanimously in favor of what may be termed the “Decree-Law” form.

If it is agreed to adopt this form, the treaty would include, as already mentioned, the percentages of duty preference to be accorded to each item, and a list of items on which the rate of duty specified is to be the maximum rate of duty during the life of the treaty.

In our conference with the Cuban delegates we also brought up the subject of binding certain classifications, especially in those instances where changes had been made (which changes would, of course, be incorporated in the Decree-Law) in order to eliminate or prevent future misclassifications. After discussing this at length it was informally and tentatively agreed that the treaty might include a provision to the effect that while the high contracting parties retain complete liberty to alter classifications in the future, no percentage of preferential may be decreased, and, in cases where the rate of duty is specified as a maximum, such rates may not be increased as a result of any future re-classification.

The merits of the Decree-Law form are as follows:

Simplicity of appearance, and saving of time in preparing the treaty.
The changes in Cuba’s tariff structure will appear more as an autonomous act.
In the exceptional cases where increases in general duty are made, they would be only indirectly attributable to the United States.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Cuba in his despatch No. 399, May 4, 1934; received May 68.