Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Latin American Affairs (Wilson)
The Haitian Minister, accompanied by Mr. de la Hue, came in today, having received instructions from his Government on the most-favored-nation question following our conference on January 22.
M. Blanchet said that his instructions indicated that there probably had been some misunderstanding of the matter by his Government. M. Hibbert cabled that there was of course no question but that Haiti desired to go ahead on the lines of the Montevideo policy, having in mind of course, as a practical matter, Haiti’s difficulties when it comes to negotiating with France and Italy, whose markets for Haitian coffee are essential to Haiti. He said that his instructions were to the effect that if signature by Haiti of the proposed agreement with the most-favored-nation clause therein would not prevent Haiti’s making agreements with France and Italy on the principles of the existing avenant to the French treaty, then Haiti would be prepared to go ahead and accept Article VII of the proposed agreement. I said that I could see no objection to this and that it amounted, as I understood it, to a continuation of the existing situation as regards the avenant to the French treaty. In other words, if Haiti finds herself obliged because of her trade position vis-à-vis France to make special classifications of a small number of French articles, it would of course be understood that similar treatment would be given by Haiti to like articles of American origin if in fact there were like articles of American origin imported into Haiti. If there were no like articles of American origin, then the question does not rise. It all seems to [Page 646] be a matter of degree: if such special classifications are reasonable and kept down to a minimum there would seem to be no objection.
M. Blanchet agreed with what I had said. He then stated that the negotiations with France would probably take place shortly, prior to the time when the Haitian Legislature will be called upon to ratify an agreement with the United States. He said that if the French should insist upon obtaining such preferential advantages from Haiti as would in fact be inconsistent with most-favored-nation treatment, then Haiti would have to advise us of the situation and take counsel with us. I said that we could meet this situation as and when it arose.
It was agreed that I would have prepared a re-draft of the proposed agreement and schedules along the lines of conversations I have had recently with the Minister and Mr. de la Rue, and would present such re-draft at the earliest possible date to the Minister. Mr. de la Rue plans to sail for Haiti on Thursday, January 31 and will take a copy of the re-draft with him.