638.6531/12: Telegram

The Chargé in Haiti (Woodward) to the Secretary of State

100. The Italian Government has for some time past insisted that Haiti take steps to compensate its unfavorable trade balance and has recently acted to prevent Haitian coffee from selling in Italy as freely as in the past. According to available figures for the current fiscal year Haiti has purchased from Italy 600,000 lire worth of goods and has sold to Italy an amount worth 12,000,000 lire.

The Haitian Government has decided to treat the matter as an urgent one as Italy is its market for quality coffee and has agreed to add a new protocol to the commercial convention already existing between the two countries50 whereby in exchange for a minimum tariff for an annual quota of 5,000,000 kilograms of Haitian coffee Haiti will apply a reduction of 33⅓ percent on existing tariff rates on the following importations from Italy: Marble, alabaster, olive oil, vermouth, cheese, canned tomatoes, buttons, umbrellas, hats, and caps.

The loss in revenue to the Haitian state if these duties had been in effect last year would have been approximately $8000.

The wording of the present draft of agreement, which I am sending to the Department by air mail tomorrow, would seem to me to afford most-favored-nation treatment to those countries, including the United States, which are already entitled to such treatment. [Page 339] Pixley, the Acting Fiscal Representative, agrees with me in this interpretation; but, as the intention of the Italian Government is presumably to favor its trade, the wording of the final text may be so changed as to make the one-third rate reduction apply only to named specialties of Italian origin.

Acting on the precedent established by the Department’s approval of the Haitian-French agreement of last February (the Legation’s telegram No. 13, February 20, 1 p.m., and the Department’s No. 10 [9], February 24, 10 a.m.), and in view of the fact that Haiti sells 10 percent of its coffee crop to Italy and will by the above agreement be able to insure this market at such little loss to its customs revenues, I have informed the Acting Fiscal Representative of the Legation’s approval of the reduced rates.

  1. Convention signed January 3, 1927, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. lxxi, p. 405.