Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The Haitian Minister accompanied by the Haitian Minister of Finance28 called to pay respects and to become acquainted. The conversation commenced in a rather general way about business and economic conditions in Haiti. The Minister of Finance then gradually proceeded to refer to conditions and to the trade relations between his country and the United States and also his country and France. He pointed out that Haiti bought from the United States far more than she sold; that she sold most of her coffee to France and this trade with France would be increased under the comparatively recent trade agreement entered into between the two governments.29 He expressed an earnest desire for an early reciprocity trade agreement between our [Page 313] two governments which would increase the volume of mutually reciprocal and profitable trade between the two countries. He stressed different phases of these possibilities, including such items as bananas and sugar especially, and he stated he wanted his country to sell 30,000 tons of sugar to us. His plea was that these expanded trade relations between our two countries would be extremely helpful to Haiti just now in the way of improved business conditions, improved living standards, and improved government credit, both internal and external. He did not press, on the occasion of this visit of himself and the President of Haiti, the question of dealing anew and finally with the external debt of Haiti and United States supervision of the fiscal affairs of his government. I inferred that they had in mind the idea of completing a suitable commercial treaty arrangement at the earliest possible date—presenting much data, memoranda, etc., as a basis while they were here on this visit and otherwise laying all the foundations for speedy negotiation and completion of the commercial agreement proposed. He stated that business was fairly good in his country and that there was and had been comparatively little unemployment.

I replied to the Minister of Finance by offering the usual expressions of welcome and of the warm friendship for the officials of his government and the people of his country on the part of the officials and people of my country. At the outset I had assured the Finance Minister of the keen interest of my government in the progress and welfare of his people, and I stated that we would be only too glad to proceed to the extent of receiving from him and his President any and all facts, data, and memoranda, for purposes of trade agreement negotiations at the earliest possible date; that until Congress passed the pending measure providing the Executive branch of the government with authority to negotiate such arrangements in the manner and to the extent provided for in the bill, we would not be in a position to enter upon formal negotiations nor to make public the preliminary conversations in connection with such planned negotiations. I assured the Minister of Finance and his associates present that I was opposed to driving any hard bargains with his government in the present circumstances at least; that I much preferred to meet his government a full half way and in fact to be really liberal in entering into the proposed reciprocal trade arrangements; that I might repeat what I had said to the Haitian Delegation to Montevideo,30 to the effect that my government was three times as anxious to clear up any complicated relationships with the Haitian Government pertaining to financial phases and get them behind us for all time, than even the Haitian Delegation could possibly be; that I could reiterate this in stronger terms if possible. I stated generally [Page 314] that my government desired to enter into more satisfactory trade relations with many other countries—all of them based upon the principle of equal and mutual profit; that in some instances steps towards ironing out, improving and clearing up any existing economic or financial relationships with his or other countries, might call for patience and a greater length of time than might be expected, or, on the other hand, such objective might be brought about within a short period of time; that this observation was not intended for his government any more than any and all others, but was a precautionary remark. I reminded him that the United States purchased more from Latin America as a whole than it sold to that region, just as it bought more from the Orient than it sold to it; that these triangular trade conditions did really exist, and that while every two nations should exhaust all reasonable efforts to expand as fully as possible their trade relations to the extent mutually profitable, there were in fact numerous instances where this would not be possible—as in the case of Brazil and the United States in which the United States purchased only the amount of coffee it needed and Brazil had to sell the balance in other parts of the world, or in the case of Chile with her nitrates, or the Argentine with her wheat and meats, etc., etc. I referred to the proximity of Haiti to the United States and to the special connections by steamship and aeroplane lines with the consequent convenience to both nations which should make possible a steady increase in commerce, and I stated that apart from our friendly interest in the people of Haiti and our desire to aid them in every feasible way, we could well join in their view about agreements to improve their business relations.

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. Lucien Hibbert, the Haitian Minister of Finance to May 1934, had accompanied the President of Haiti on his visit to the United States in March-April, 1934. See pp. 348352, passim.
  2. Supplementary commercial agreement signed March 10, 1934, Le Moniteur, April 23, 1934, p. 255. See also post, pp. 333 ff.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1933, vol. v, pp. 764778.