The Minister in the Dominican Republic (Schoenfeld) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 14.]
Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that, in conversation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs today, Señor Bonetti Burgos introduced the subject of a possible trade agreement between the United States and the Dominican Republic by referring to the Dominican Government’s impression that a certain aloofness had been noticeable on the part of the United States towards the Dominican Republic in commercial matters and, indeed, generally. This supposed attitude was the more noticeable by contrast with the attitude of the United States towards other countries similarly situated in relation to the United States. The Minister said that the Dominican Government felt that, by virtue of this country’s geographical position, which made it natural for trade relations with the United States to be preponderant in Dominican economy, negotiations for a trade agreement with the United States could be undertaken to the mutual advantage of both countries.
The Minister stated that, though he had learned, during his visit at Washington prior to assuming his duties here, that it would be most difficult to obtain a quota for Dominican sugar exports to the United States, the Dominican Government was still hopeful that such a quota might be obtained.
In this relation he mentioned a figure of 300,000 tons which, he stated, would be of the utmost importance to Dominican economy while, at the same time, it would be of only slight importance in relation to the total sugar imports into the United States from foreign countries. The Minister then alluded again to the alleged aloofness (retraimiento) of the United States towards the Dominican Government and said, speaking “unofficially”, that this attitude was not understood here, especially since the Dominican Government was [Page 408] disinclined to abandon the hope of increased commercial relations with the United States in favor of any intensification of trade relations with Japan. He referred to the rapid increase of imports from Japan into this country in recent years and to the inferior quality of Japanese goods, at the same time mentioning the artificial nature of increased Japanese-Dominican trade, the possibility that such trade would, nevertheless, create vested interests which would be unfavorably affected by any later changes in the trade currents of this Republic and, finally, intimating that the Dominican Government was also conscious of the possibility of unfavorable political implications in such a situation for the United States, with whom the Dominican Government, and especially President Trujillo’s administration, desired to maintain particularly close relations.
I said to the Minister that the American Government had indicated more than two years ago its intention of undertaking negotiations with the Dominican Government for a trade agreement. It was my personal impression that attention had been distracted from this matter by subsequent developments in American-Dominican relations in 1934 and in 1935. I referred to the difficulties which had come up in 1934,1 affecting the protection of American interests established in this Republic, and to further difficulties having similar effects in 1935.2 I said that, happily, many of these matters had been eliminated from the field of discussion and that, at the present time, the principal issues which seemed to require settlement were those having to do with the treaty obligations of the Dominican Government under the Convention of 1924,2a including the matter of the Dominican Government’s floating debt, which had been the subject of our notes of May 18 and June 18, last, respectively.3 Adding that I was confident these matters would shortly be cleared up, I suggested to the Minister, as I said on my personal initiative, that he let me have, for transmission to the Department, an explicit and reasoned memorandum of the Dominican Government’s ideas regarding a trade agreement with the United States. I said that, should I receive such a memorandum, I should be glad to transmit it to my Government with a view, if possible, to expediting consideration of a trade agreement between the two countries. The Minister seemed to consider this suggestion expedient but did not undertake to supply the suggested memorandum, the early preparation of which, presumably, would depend upon the [Page 409] amount of study given the subject here and its consideration as a matter of policy by the appropriate authorities of the Dominican Government.