681.003/125: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Atherton) to the Secretary of State

13. Department’s 5, January 9, 7 p.m. With reference to Department’s further inquiry as to British reasons (a) and (b), Foreign Office states that, (1) it is not their understanding that the exchange in question is the initial step in the establishment in Morocco of a general quota system applicable to different countries in varying degrees but that it is an agreement between themselves and the French on the subject of specific commodities and tariffs, with reservation by the British of all other rights. They point out again that they have bargaining rights with the French based on their treaties of 1856 with Morocco, which rights are not in their opinion contingent upon those of any other country.

(2) Referring to the Department’s question whether it is not logical to conclude that very soon all the nations trading with Morocco, including those having treaties with most-favored-nation clauses, will find themselves in a situation where they must individually bargain with France on different commodities, the Foreign Office replied that France may refuse to bargain with other countries on this question. The Foreign Office thinks that the British under their treaties of 1856 with the Sultan of Morocco, possess an advantageous position for [Page 955] bargaining with France, not enjoyed by any other country except Spain. The Foreign Office states that of course other interested countries may threaten to carry the issue to The Hague and that this, which would not be desired by the French, might make them willing to bargain. (See my 633, December 21, 7 p.m.,15 paragraph 2 and 3.)

Referring again to the reported suggestion made by Ponsot (Department’s instruction to Paris No. 699 [669], December 18, 193416) that the United States should give up their extraterritorial rights in Morocco in exchange for commercial guarantees, the Foreign Office observes again that the French have never made such a suggestion to them, but that 2 days ago a proposal was made by the Spanish Government that the extraterritorial rights of Great Britain in the Spanish Zone in Morocco be relinquished.

The Foreign Office are puzzled by this situation and the strictly confidential opinion was ventured that there may be some collusion between the French and the Spanish, with a view to securing complete abrogation of extraterritorial rights of all other powers in Morocco.17

  1. Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. ii, p. 882.
  2. Ibid., p. 876.
  3. See telegram No. 27, January 21, 6 p.m., from the Chargé in the United Kingdom, p. 1005.