The Haitian Legation to the Department of State



On the subject of the contemplated commercial treaty between the United States and Haiti, it is necessary not to lose sight of the fact that it ought to be a mutually advantageous treaty as President Roosevelt has promised, as President Vincent has announced and as the special situation of Haiti with respect to the United States gives reason to hope.

Haiti purchases from the United States ten times more than the United States purchases in Haiti.

Haiti desires to increase as much as possible the volume of her purchases in the United States and it goes without saying that this result cannot be obtained except on condition of increasing in some way Haiti’s power to purchase in the United States, for, in the last analysis, domestic and international commerce is nothing but an exchange of commodities and of services.

It follows that the best and perhaps the only practical means of increasing such purchasing power is to facilitate the entry and distribution of Haitian products in the United States market.

It is hardly necessary to point out that the whole production of Haiti—whether the present production or an increased production—could be easily absorbed by the enormous consumption of the United States market without its being even’ noticed and therefore without the slightest disturbance to the economy of the United States.

The Haitian Government is in accord with the United States Government in recognizing and taking note of the fact that the great obstacle to commerce and to the reestablishment of normal conditions of international exchange comes from the high tariffs and the restrictions which almost everywhere constitute real barriers.

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In this connection, it must be admitted that the Haitian customs tariff which was recast in 1926, and has not been modified since 1926, is not at all a prohibitive or a restrictive tariff; it only contains some duties which constitute protection for some industries of the country.

And it is important to note that Haiti is, first of all, a small agricultural country for which it is materially impossible to purchase without selling abroad and which, furthermore, is afflicted with a customs regime which is almost exclusively fiscal; its budget is supplied by the export and import duties raised in accordance with the tariff in force, which duties constitute its principal revenues.

Hence arises the almost insurmountable difficulty of lowering the custom charges without reducing the vital resources of the country, which resources are, furthermore, pledged.

Having no customs barrier of her own, the Haitian Republic cordially desires to contribute in her modest way, and in harmony with the United States Government, to the general lowering of customs barriers which interfere with international commerce; but she cannot and she ought not to expose herself, by undertaking engagements without an assured equivalent, to losing, in the conflict of exasperated nationalisms, the outlets which are already precarious and which she has only been able to retain until now by special arrangements and at the price of sacrifices.

For the foregoing reasons, the Haitian Government is under the necessity of insisting on proposing that there be accorded to the Haitian products previously designated a treatment which would facilitate their entry into the American market, and that the Agreement be so drawn up that a really practical, useful and mutually advantageous commercial agreement may be concluded between the United States and Haiti.