The Secretary of State to the Minister in Haiti (Armour)

No. 238

Sir: In connection with the proposed trade agreement between the United States and Haiti, you are informed that a list of specific concessions has not been officially requested of the Department by the Haitian Government. Both the Haitian Minister and Mr. de la Rue have, however, made known in a general way the nature of the concessions being sought by Haiti, and the Department has deemed its expedient to indicate informally to them the extent to which this Government will probably be able to meet the wishes of the Haitian Government.

On one commodity, rum, it is likely that a reduction in duty of [Page 321] from $5.00 to $2.50 per gallon can be granted, although the Haitian desire for a separate classification of sugar-cane rum is considered impracticable on grounds of policy and administration. On fresh pineapples we will probably be able to reduce the tariff from $0.50 to $0.35 per crate and from 11/6 cents to 9/10 cents each in bulk. In addition, this Government is prepared to agree to maintain sisal and logwood on the free list for the life of the agreement. With respect to coffee, cocoa-beans, bananas and goatskins, the fact that Haiti is a very minor supplier makes it impossible, under our most-favored nation policy, to give Haiti a guaranty of continued free entry without seriously impairing our bargaining position with other more important suppliers. In connection with these products, however, the Department will be pleased to give Haiti an undertaking in the form of an unconditional most-favored nation provision, which will assure her continued free entry on an equality with any major suppliers that may be guaranteed such treatment in later trade agreements.

By virtue of this suggested unconditional most-favored nation provision, Haiti could expect in all probability to receive the benefits of tariff reductions on such commodities as long-staple cotton, cashew nuts, orange peel, hand embroidery, limes, and logwood extract if, as is considered likely, such reductions are agreed to in trade agreements with the major suppliers of these products in the course of the next few months. As in the case of binding on the free list commodities of which Haiti is a minor supplier, the granting of tariff reductions on these products to Haiti at the present time would seriously impair the position of the United States in its negotiation of agreements with the leading suppliers.

The Department is of the opinion that the possible concessions indicated above fully meet the desires of the Haitian Government as made known to the Department with the exception of one requested concession on sugar. The request of Haiti that she be granted a quota substantially greater than the one prescribed for 1934 cannot be acceded to because of the discrimination that it would involve. However, it has been brought to the attention of the Haitian Minister and of Mr. de la Rue that Haiti continues to enjoy the right to export unlimited quantities of “draw-back” sugar to the United States; and it is believed that the problem of disposing of the Haitian export sugar crop might well be taken care of through that means.

The above is for your strictly confidential information and to serve you as background in case the subject of the proposed trade agreement is brought up in any conversations you may have either with President Vincent or with Monsieur Blanchet, who is now on his way to Port-au-Prince.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Sumner Welles