681.003/159: Telegram

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

92. Your despatch 1645, February 19, and your telegram 171, March 1, 1 p.m. Department has given careful consideration to the observations of the French representatives as outlined therein and can see no valid reason for changing its decision as set forth in Department’s 61, February 19, 7 p.m.

In connection with the indications you reported that whether or not we assent to the proposals, the French Government is determined to put the reforms into effect, we feel that we should reiterate our position as stated in second paragraph of Department’s 47, February 9, 3 p.m., as follows: This Government strongly believes that it is obligatory that the parties to the Act of Algéciras should not only be consulted but that each Power should acquiesce before any changes are made in the customs regime in Morocco.

In order that there may be no misunderstanding, since the discussions in Paris have been informal, we feel that the time has come to lodge with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs this Government’s formal protest against the establishment of the proposed system on the following grounds: (1) The system involving quotas would prove to be discriminatory and, therefore, definitely out of harmony with the principle of commercial equality as guaranteed in the Act of Algéciras [Page 974] and by the French in various treaties and declarations which constitute the foundation of the French Administration of Morocco. (2) The establishment of such a system would be particularly unfortunate at this time when efforts are being made to increase world trade by the removal of trade barriers. (3) From the point of view of this Government the essence of the Moroccan question is the maintenance of the “Open Door” which would preclude our assenting to any proposals inconsistent therewith.

For your information despite Coursier’s assertion that we are “the only country adopting other than a utilitarian view of the matter” we understand that the Netherlands56 and Belgium57 are opposed and that Spain58 is reluctant to accept.

If you should deem it inadvisable to lodge this formal protest at this time, please telegraph statement of your reasons therefor.

  1. See memorandum of November 9. 1934, by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs, Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. ii, p. 855.
  2. See memorandum of January 24, 1935, by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs, p. 961.
  3. See telegram No. 15, February 21, 6 p.m., to the Ambassador in Spain, p. 1012.