The Minister in Haiti ( Armour ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 4:20 p.m.]
115. Pixley45 informs me that the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance agreed informally yesterday at a conference with the French Minister to propose to General Receiver a plan initiated by local French Chamber of Commerce to convert value of French imports into gourdes at gold parity for the purpose of computing ad valorem duties rather than at current exchange rates as at present in order to remove handicap on imports from France due to decreased exchange value of gourde. The French Minister recognized that the plan would have to be extended [to] all gold countries. The French Minister stated that his Government is about to negotiate a new commercial treaty with Haiti and unless present trade handicap is relieved France will eliminate most-favored-nation clause.
The plan fails to take into account recent price increases in American merchandise against which the French frankly admitted their plan is directed. The plan actually would reduce customs duties requiring action under Article 9 of the Treaty of 1915. Pixley feels considerable pressure will be exerted on his office by the Government during the next few days to force adoption of the plan. For this reason it is hoped that the Department will give the matter its immediate attention and let the Legation have its decision on what answer should be made. As it is understood that De la Rue46 is now in Washington the Department probably will wish to consult him.[Page 334]
Pixley feels that while this last French proposal is of local origin and does not emanate from the French Foreign Office, nevertheless, the danger presented by the French threat to bar Haitian coffee unless its demands are met is sufficiently serious to justify a careful examination as to possibilities offered by the American market for Haitian coffee; that full information on this question at any rate would be required during discussions with the French.