The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Bingham) to the Secretary of State

No. 1504

Sir: With reference to the Department’s instruction No. 809 of May 1, 1935, regarding modification of the customs regime in the French zone of Morocco. I have the honor to state that the substance of that instruction was conveyed orally to the Foreign Office.

In a recent conversation the Foreign Office said that all reports continue to indicate that the French Government has apparently abandoned its efforts to bring about a modification of the customs regime. The French High Commissioner in a private conversation had described the economic situation as very serious, and remarked that “Morocco may have to default”.

The Foreign Office said that from a commercial standpoint, its principal concern was of course Japanese competition, which had practically eliminated British cotton goods from that market. This trade had dropped to one-fifth during the past year. For that reason the Foreign Office regretted that it looked as though the proposed Anglo-French arrangement, with satisfactory protection to Great Britain in the form of quotas, would probably not come into effect. The Foreign Office was also a little afraid that the French Government, having failed in its present negotiations toward the limited modification of the customs regime, might go the whole way and denounce or ignore, as out of date, all of the Moroccan treaties including the British treaty of 1856. Since certain provisions of that treaty were specifically waived in the Anglo-French arrangement, the Foreign Office felt that by implication this gave the treaty a fresh and much needed recognition.

The Foreign Office said that it would be very much interested to learn anything further which the Embassy might ascertain from Washington and particularly whether the United States Government objected to the French proposal purely on principle or because the French had not given an adequate commercial quid pro quo.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Ray Atherton

Counselor of Embassy