611.1831/128: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Costa Rica (Collins)

42. Referring to your telegram No. 59, October 17, 1 p.m.24

1. For your confidential information following conferences with Mr. Sack, the Costa Rican Minister has recommended directly to President Cortés that settlement of lard schedule be made on basis of Department’s viewpoint. The Costa Rican Minister, however, has received no definite answer because of illness of President and absence of Foreign Minister. He said last night that he was again telegraphing the President and he indicated that immediately following Foreign Minister’s departure for Buenos Aires Acting Foreign Minister will be instructed to facilitate the agreement.

2. Reference your conversations with Gurdián. May we impress on you need for greatest caution in order that Legation may not become involved in local jealousies or appear to be negotiating over the head of the Foreign Minister.

3. You are authorized to present again to the Acting Foreign Minister the arguments outlined in the Department’s telegram of September 4, 12 noon, adding thereto the argument suggested in paragraph 4 of your telegram under acknowledgement. Your efforts should be concentrated on obtaining a 50–centimo rate on lard, since the Department is not certain that it will be possible to obtain necessary clearance here for the agreement if it contains a higher rate on this product.

I believe that the elimination from Schedule I of cornstarch on the terms you quote will offer no difficulty. Alternative items to replace cornstarch are now being studied and will be supplied you when needed.

In approaching the Acting Foreign Minister on this subject I believe it will be useful for you to emphasize, inter alia, the importance to the permanency and efficacy of the trade agreement program of lowering the tariff barriers which today impede reasonable foreign trade in agricultural products. The United States enjoys as much if not more [Page 402] natural advantages in producing lard as Costa Rica does in growing coffee. Tariff concessions on lard in trade agreements are to our farmers comparable in relative importance to benefits favoring Costa Rican coffee. Agricultural interests in the United States are certain to withdraw their support of the trade agreement program unless worthwhile concessions are obtained on key farm exports such as lard and flour, and the failure of the program is almost sure to entail a return to tariff insularity.

Our agricultural requests of Costa Rica are unusually moderate: despite the desirability of lowering the Costa Rican tariff on flour—a step which would benefit both American agriculture and the Costa Rican consumer—we have reluctantly agreed to binding the present tariff treatment; on lard, we originally requested a rate of 24 centimos, receded to 40 and then to 50, notwithstanding the fact that the rate was only 40 centimos when Costa Rica agreed to negotiate with this Government. All of these considerations convince me that the Costa Rican Government should be able and willing, not solely to gratify this Government, but also to help protect its own vital stake in liberalized world trade—to find some means of meeting our present modest request on lard.

4. The Department assumes that you are keeping in mind contents of Department’s telegram No. 36, September 25, 3 p.m.26

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