The Ambassador in France (Straus) to the Secretary of State

No. 1529

Sir: In my telegram No. 42 of January 15, 6 p.m., I had the honor to summarize a conversation held at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on January 14 between officials of the French Government and Mr. Marriner and Mr. Williamson of the Embassy, concerning the proposed alterations in the Moroccan customs regime. A translation of the content of the Department’s instruction No. 669 of December 18, 1934,28 was first read to the French representatives, the original text being adhered to with the exception of a few slight modifications. In order that there might be no possibility of misinterpretation of the Department’s views, an Aide-Mémoire was then left which included the most important of the American observations. For the completion of the Department’s archives on the subject, the Aide-Mémoire is enclosed in copy and translation29 and there is likewise attached in English and French the further observations29 orally made on behalf of the Department, but of which no written text was left at the Foreign Office.

In my telegram under reference I reviewed the ensuing conversation as well as sketched the salient portions of the French proposal regarding economic changes in Morocco. The Embassy representatives were handed a memorandum embodying the project of negotiation, a copy and translation of which are furnished herewith. The following [Page 958] morning M. Coursier of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs called at the Embassy and delivered an appendix to the French memorandum which treats in further detail the contemplated tariff changes. A copy and translation of this appendix are likewise enclosed. The Foreign Office representatives remarked in this connection that while it is not obligatory to consult the powers regarding the tariff changes they wished as a matter of courtesy to acquaint the American Government with the plan. They expressed the belief that the tariff alterations on the whole would be found advantageous to American trade.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Theodore Marriner

Counselor of Embassy

The French Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the American Embassy


Moroccan trade with the United States is very favorable to the latter.

In 1933, the value of products imported from the United States into Morocco was Fes. 70,612,000, while the value of Moroccan products imported into the United States was only Fes. 7,933,000, or only a little more than one-tenth.

The Government of the Protectorate intends to establish in Morocco a quota system for merchandise in order to struggle against the abnormal development of importations from certain countries which have appeared of late in the Moroccan market (since last year Japan has moved up to second place on the list of countries importing into Morocco, following France closely and considerably ahead of countries which, like England, had for many years important commercial interests in Morocco).

It is for the purpose of reestablishing on normal bases the import trade of Morocco that a system of quotas, calculated in the same manner for all countries (in order to respect the rule of economic equality), has been devised following exchanges of views with the British Government during the course of the negotiations concerning the last Franco-British commercial treaty.

The products for the importation of which the quota system is proposed are the following:

  • Cotton fabric,
  • Natural silk fabric,
  • Artificial silk fabric (rayon),
  • Iron and steel, articles made of iron and steel, machinery,
  • Automobiles and spare parts for same,
  • Inner tubes and casings,
  • Refined sugar,
  • Cement.

The establishment and the allotment of the quotas would follow the ensuing lines:

A global quota, for each of the products enumerated in list A, would be fixed each semester by adopting as a basis the imports of the last corresponding period as ascertained from published statistics. Thus in 1935, the global quota for the first semester would be established in accordance with the statistics for the first semester of 1933, and that for the second semester in accordance with the statistics for the second semester of 1934. (Embassy’s note: The Foreign Office explains that the statistics for the first semester of 1934 not being published as yet, it is necessary to have recourse to the figures for 1933.)

Within the limitations of the theoretical global quotas thus fixed, and which may be increased or reduced according to economic necessity, each exporting country would receive a quantitative share proportional to its imports of the product (into Morocco) based on the period from 1928 to 1933, inclusive.

Should a certain quota not be exhausted during the six-months’ period for which it was established, the Government of the Protectorate would have the power to carry over the unused balance into the following semester, when requests were made of it so to do.

The allocation of quotas would be effected under the care of the Government of the Protectorate in collaboration with the trades organizations designated by the government of each of the exporting countries.

Concerning the collection of ad valorem duties, the regulations in force presenting certain defects which are detrimental to the Treasury, it has been decided to complete the present rules with provisions designed:

for the establishment of official price lists upon which the ad valorem duty would be calculated (these price lists would be drawn up each semester in the French zone within the limitations of the table giving maximum and minimum values established twice a year at Tangier by the representatives of the three zones of Morocco);
and for the creation of a committee of appeals charged with deciding, in last resort, conflicts between the customs administration and the importers (concerning especially the taxation of merchandise not included in the official price lists). This committee would be presided over by the president of the District Court (Tribunal du liessort) or any other magistrate designated by him and would include the Chief of the Commercial and Industrial Service or an official of [Page 960] that administration designated by him, and a member designated by the importer.

This committee’s deliberations would be valid with a quorum of two members present.

The Chief of the Customs’ Service would have a consultative voice and would act as Secretary of the Committee of Appeals.

The balance of trade between Morocco and the United States being constantly in favor of the United States, the French Government would be pleased if, by analogy with the reciprocity clause adopted by the Council of the League of Nations in September 1930, concerning the A and B mandates, the Government of the United States should be disposed, as the British Government has done, to assure the French Government of its willingness favorably to consider any requests which may be presented to it with a view to granting, in commercial matters, to persons under the Moroccan jurisdiction or to merchandise originating in Morocco, advantages corresponding to those enjoyed in Morocco by American citizens and merchandise from the United States.

Concerning modifications of a similar nature to be introduced in the Tangier zone, the French Government is disposed to make proposals relative thereto while taking into account the economic conditions of the Tangier zone and in accordance with the procedure required by the status of that zone.

As a general observation, it is recalled that no measure concerning the Moroccan customs tariff may be put into force unless the French Government shall have consulted on the subject with the Spanish Government.



The articles enumerated in the annexed list will be subject to a tariff of 25% ad valorem (including the 2½% ad valorem instituted by the Act of Algéciras) subject to the observations mentioned as a foot-note to the list.

The products necessary to agriculture, such as agricultural machinery, etc. as well as the primary materials necessary to industry, such as coal containing more than 10% of volatile products, etc. will be subject to reduced duties:

As concerns coal, the duties will be 10% ad valorem (including the tax of 2½% ad valorem instituted by the Act of Algéciras).

The other products, with the exception of those which will benefit from the customs free list (ships, paper for newspapers, various publications, etc.), will be the object of a normal tariff of 15% ad valorem (including the tax of 2½% ad valorem instituted by the Act of Algéciras).

[Page 961]

The Administration of the French Zone will modify the vizirial decision of July 31, 1933, in such manner that the port taxes applicable to the products enumerated below shall be the same as those applicable to similar local products:

yarn and fabrics of pure or mixed cotton and all articles manufactured in yarn or fabrics of pure or mixed cotton;

yarn and fabrics of flax, hemp or artificial silk and all articles manufactured in yarn or fabrics of flax, hemp or artificial silk, pure or mixed;

yarn and fabrics of pure or mixed wool and all articles manufactured in yarn or fabrics of pure or mixed wool.

Products Subject on Importation to an Ad Valorem Duty of 25%

  • Cement
  • Food pastes
  • Seed oils*
  • Automobiles and spare parts

  1. The omitted portion of this despatch is a summary of the two enclosures printed.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. ii, p. 876.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. The Government of the Protectorate envisages reduction in the rates of certain categories of these products in order to make possible the conclusion of commercial arrangements. [Footnote in the original.]
  6. This duty may be transformed into a specific duty. [Footnote in the original.]