638.5131/61: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Haiti ( Chapin )

21. Your No. 47, June 14, 1 p.m. You may say to the President that we have already pointed out and reiterated to the French that there [Page 662] appears to be a satisfactory basis for a commercial agreement between France and Haiti on the lines of the avenant which recently expired. You may also say to the President that the Department is surprised that the French Minister should point out as a stumbling block Article VII of our agreement, when unconditional most-favored-nation treatment is granted by Haiti to several other countries. Unless Haiti is prepared to continue to rule its commercial policy by this principle, it may of course expect that the other countries with which it trades will be forced to act accordingly. The question therefore is one of broad commercial policy which Haiti itself must decide according to its own lights. If, however, Haiti and France can resume their commercial relations on the basis of the 1934 avenant so as to make it possible for France to continue to enjoy the benefits heretofore granted under the avenant, as well as future benefits through expansion of exports to Haiti, and the unconditional most-favored-nation principle is maintained, this Government could raise no objection thereto.

While the Department believes that the negotiation of the trade agreement between France and Haiti is primarily a question between themselves, we cannot consent to any weakening of the principle involved in Article VII. The United States construes most-favored-nation treatment to mean that the lowest duty applicable to a product of France shall apply to the intrinsically like product of the United States, even though the American product does not bear the trade mark or trade name of the French product. No attempt should be made to apply this construction to particular products in advance of a concrete occasion for doing so. It is merely the test which the United States would apply if occasion should arise. As regards many items covered by the avenant, this construction may be of no practical importance to France since many of such products are not supplied by the United States.