The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Belgium (Morris)
4. Your 5, January 29, 6 p.m. From Phillips. While soma progress has been made in the Belgian negotiations, the difficulties being [Page 105] experienced arise from the fact that the Belgian approach to these negotiations is and has been distinctly different from our approach. We have envisaged a comprehensive agreement while the Belgians apparently envisage a limited arrangement. We have been prepared to make substantial reductions on a substantial list of items. The Belgians have so far indicated a willingness to do little more than to maintain the status quo in so far as American imports into Belgium are concerned. It would appear difficult to conclude even a limited agreement on the basis of the concessions which the Belgians have so far indicated a willingness to make, principally because the concessions which the Belgians are willing to make do not include items of essential importance to us. There are one or two exceptions such as the duty on automobile parts.
While we would be glad to see a reduction in the duty on parts, it is essential that there be a reduction in the duty on assembled cars. It would be impracticable to accept a concession on parts alone. Furthermore, the Belgians appear unwilling to make any concession on agricultural items of essential interest to us. To put the agreement across in the United States some agricultural concessions are essential.
The divergence in the approach which the Belgians have taken from the approach which we have taken seems to have arisen in part at least from a suggestion which the Belgians say you made to them to the effect that only a limited agreement would be made.
While I would not wish it to appear that we are going over the heads of the Belgian delegation and appealing direct through you to the Belgian Government, I see no harm should you take occasion to discuss our position with the appropriate authorities. The delegation here is working along very well and seem to be handicapped principally by the lack of authority from Brussels to make concessions on items of principal interest to us. Confidential and in no circumstances to be imparted, if the Belgians are not prepared to go further than they have so far indicated a limited agreement might possibly be concluded, but it will require cutting down our offer by the elimination of most of the items of principal interest to the Belgians and limiting the actual number of items to a very small list.
An agreement with Belgium which is only partially successful may react unfavorably to our whole program, and I feel that the Belgian Government is as vitally interested in the successful launching of this program as are we. [Phillips.]