500.C1112/39: Telegram

The Consul at Geneva (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State

389. I have already reported postponement and I have recently been noting evidences of possible further delays in the beginning of the economic discussions in the Second Committee.38 Rueff39 who just arrived from Paris asked to see me privately and informed me as follows:

1. France contemplates issuing a decree tomorrow abolishing about 120 quotas and reducing tariffs 20 per cent on raw materials, 17 percent [Page 470] on half-finished products, and 15 per cent on finished products, and abolishing the “20 per cent license tax”.

2. Blum is considering addressing very shortly an inquiry to Washington as to whether we would be willing to join with France and Great Britain in conversations with the object of carrying forward the policy set forth in the tripartite identic announcement respecting trade, quotas and exchange control.

His present thought is that he would be favorable to such conversations being held in Washington or Paris or perhaps elsewhere and further that it might be desirable to include Belgium and perhaps less possibly Holland and Switzerland.

To seize advantage of the new financial arrangements and also for internal political reasons in France, Blum feels it to be imperative that some joint effort along the lines indicated be undertaken and immediately if it is to be effective. Rueff could not be more specific respecting the French idea of the scope of these conversations until after a conference with Blum which he is having this evening.

3. In respect of the British he did not go further than to state that “he thought they would be helpful”.

4. The French do not wish to enter into a general economic discussion in the Second Committee until some conclusions are reached on the above.

5. The foregoing is at the present moment tentative. This disclosed to me in strict confidence.

  1. Discussions began October 5 and continued until October 9.
  2. Jacques Rueff, Assistant Director in the French Ministry of Finance; technical adviser to the French delegation at the seventeenth League of Nations Assembly.