Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Latin American Affairs (Wilson)

At my request Minister Blanchet, with Mr. de la Rue,8 came in. Mr. Trueblood9 was present. I said that I understood that a serious [Page 643] question of principle had arisen in the discussion of a trade agreement with Haiti. The recent instructions received by M. Blanchet from M. Hibbert had raised the question of whether under the most-favored-nation clause of the proposed agreement Haiti would still be free to give especially favorable treatment to certain articles of France and Italy and had pointed out that Haiti must in fact be able to grant such particular advantages to those countries. I said that we were aware of the problems faced by Haiti in her commercial relations with the two countries in question, as well as with the budgetary situation, which would show a reduction in revenues this coming year on account of the poor coffee crop. I said that we were sympathetic to all of Haiti’s problems. However, as regards this matter of the most-favored-nation clause, it had been understood from the outset that our discussions with Haiti of the proposed trade agreement would rest squarely on that principle. This had been the basis for the principles on commercial policy adopted at Montevideo and only recently M. Blanchet, under specific instructions from M. Hibbert, had advised us that there could be no question of Haiti abandoning the principles of Montevideo. I said, therefore, that I was inclined to believe that there had been some misunderstanding in this matter, as I could not conceive that Haiti would decline to go along on the basis of the most-favored-nation treatment. I said that it would of course be necessary, before we could give further consideration to the agreement, to reach a definite understanding on this point, namely, that Haiti accepts the most-favored-nation clause without reservation, and that if in the future she should grant tariff reductions on the principles of the existing avenant to the French treaty she should extend similar treatment on like articles of American origin when imported into Haiti. I inquired whether in fact this was not the situation as it exists at present with relation to articles comprised in the French avenant. Both M. Blanchet and Mr. de la Rue assured me that this was the situation.

M. Blanchet spoke at some length of the difficult situation which Haiti encounters in dealing with France and Italy, whose markets for Haitian coffee are essential to Haiti. He said, finally, that he would send a cable to his Government reporting the situation which had arisen and requesting definite instructions that Haiti would be prepared to go ahead on the basis indicated above.

Edwin C. Wilson
  1. Sidney de la Rue, Fiscal Representative of the Haitian Government.
  2. Edward G. Trueblood, Divisional Assistant, Division of Latin American Affairs.