The Minister in the Dominican Republic (Schoenfeld) to the Secretary of State

No. 3579

Sir: Referring further to the Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 13 of October 9, 1936, and my despatch No. 3556 of October 10 last, regarding formal representations made to the Dominican Government with a view to securing for American goods, similar in character to certain French products specified by trade names in the recently concluded Franco-Dominican trade agreement, equal treatment with French products in pursuance of the American-Dominican Modus Vivendi of 1924,1 have the honor to inform the Department that I had a conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs this morning on the subject.

I informed the Minister that, as I had learned from the American Consul in this city, shipments of American goods, such as confectionery for the Christmas trade, were now beginning to arrive here and their treatment by the customs would raise concretely the question of [Page 416] the most-favored-nation accord of 1924. I said I would appreciate any advice which the Minister might be in a position to give me in the premises. Señor Bonetti Burgos informed me that, since the receipt of my note of October 10,12a the Government had been reconsidering the position taken by the Treasury Department, as reported in my despatch No. 3546 of October 2. This position, as the Department will recall, was that the reductions of and exemptions from so-called internal revenue taxes granted to certain French products bearing trade names specified in the Franco-Dominican trade agreement would not apply to similar American products. He added that the pending reconsideration had not yet been concluded and was now being carried on also by the Consultative Commission of the Foreign Office. He hoped next week to be able to advise me more definitely of the Dominican Government’s conclusions.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs went on to say that the beginning of the negotiations for a Franco-Dominican trade agreement had ante-dated his entry into the Foreign Office last February; when he took over the Department of Foreign Affairs he had noted in the French proposals the specification of trade names and had inquired of the French Legation here on the subject. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said he had learned from the French Minister Resident that the proposed specification of trade names later embodied in the agreement was an initiative of the French Government; the French Minister had explained the reason for it as being the circumstance that there were many establishments in France owned by non-French interests (particularly German and Italian) whose products made in France the French Government had desired to exclude from the benefits of proposed trade agreements with foreign countries. The negotiations, consequently, proceeded along the lines initiated by the French Government. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said he had lately been informed that the recently concluded Franco-American trade agreement13 also referred specifically to certain French products by their trade names. I took occasion to correct the Minister’s impression on this point, at least in so far as the Franco-American trade agreement signed at Washington on May 6 last is concerned.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs again referred spontaneously to the matter of a Dominican-American trade agreement. He informed me that his study of the Foreign Office’s voluminous file on this subject was continuing. It was his impression that, while the Dominican Government’s views regarding certain aspects of American-Dominican trade had been communicated from time to time semi-officially to our [Page 417] Government, they had never been concretely formulated and conveyed through the regular channels; while he had not completed his study of the file it seemed to him now that it would be highly desirable to present the Dominican Government’s standpoint regarding trade relations with the United States in a more definite form. The Dominican Government felt that the American Government, in view of the overwhelming preponderance in Dominican trade of imports from the United States, was under a “moral obligation” to grant increased facilities for Dominican exports to the United States and to grant this country much the same treatment as we grant to Cuba. I also corrected the Minister’s impression as to the disparity in American-Dominican trade by supplying to him the figures cited at page 3 of my despatch No. 3563 of October 13, 1936. The Minister referred, as he has done before, to his personal discussion and correspondence on this subject with officers of the Department of State.

He referred particularly to his understanding that an increased quota for Dominican sugar in the American market was an administrative matter with which our Government could, if it so desired, deal to the advantage of the Dominican Republic and without reference to the enactment of further legislation by our Congress. The Minister mentioned also, as he has done before, the largely increased volume of imports from Japan into this country in recent years. He said that President Trujillo was desirous of restricting such imports in view of the fact that the Dominican export trade to Japan was practically non-existent, adding that such purchases as have been made here by Japan were merely a “gesture.”

I intimated to the Minister of Foreign Affairs my personal opinion that it would seem regrettable to permit the development at this time of any difficulty with the United States growing out of the application of the Franco-Dominican trade agreement, which might interfere with the eventual success of negotiations between the American and Dominican Governments for a trade agreement. The intimation was not lost upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He said again that he hoped next week to have further information as to his Government’s position following the representations made in my note of October 10.

Respectfully yours,

H. F. Arthur Schoenfeld
  1. Not printed.
  2. Signed May 6, 1936; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 146, or 53 Stat. 2236. For correspondence concerning the agreement, see vol. ii, pp. 85 ff.