The American Technical Advisers (Nufer, Donnelly, and Turhel) to the Ambassador in Cuba (Caffery)37

Subject: Request for Instructions in Cases Involving Reductions in General Duty.

It is respectfully requested that the following be transmitted to the State Department by cable if it meets with your approval:

In our recent discussions with the Cuban delegates they have reiterated their reluctance to reduce general rates of duty, and have repeatedly expressed their preference for accomplishing reductions in rates of duty to the United States by means of higher preferentials. Their reluctance is due to the following points:

They claim that changes in the tariff structure will result in delaying negotiations, as in every case where a change in the general duty rate is proposed a special investigation as to the possible result of such a change will have to be made.
They have expressed the apprehension that our requests for reductions in general duty rates, in lieu of sharp increases in our preference, may indicate a general policy of our government to reduce general rates of duty on Cuban products, and to grant only slightly increased preferences, rather than to improve Cuba’s competitive position as against other foreign suppliers through high preferences. They apparently fear that their compliance with our requests might be construed as an acceptance of such a policy. (This latter argument is undoubtedly the outstanding one in the minds of the Cuban group.)

The Cuban group, however, has gone so far as to admit that the granting of a large number of high preferences to us might cause adverse comment, and hence it is possible that we may be able to convince them of the desirability of reducing general duty rates in exceptional cases.

In those cases, however, where the Cuban delegates insist on maintaining their present position, could we not be authorized to accept the increased preference?

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Cuba in his despatch No. 421, May 69, 1934; received May 10.