Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Trade Agreements (Hawkins)

Referring to my memorandum of August 23, 1937,23 Mr. Capomazza24 called again in regard to the question of the status of Italo-American commercial relations in the interval between the signing of the pending commercial treaty and its coming into force after approval by the Senate. Mr. Capomazza said that he needs to cable his Government as to what we would be in a position to do in regard to this matter. In reply to my inquiry he stated that he was assuming that a mutually satisfactory treaty would have been worked out and signed, and that the question he now raises pertains only to the situation following the actual signature of the treaty and prior to its coming into force.

He said that the Ambassador had obtained the impression from Mr. Sayre some time ago that an exchange of notes might be entered into prolonging the effectiveness of the old Treaty of 1871 pending the coming into force of the new one. I told him that I was not sure that Mr. Sayre had in mind that the exchange of notes would take precisely this form; that there might be some legal obstacle to prolonging a treaty by an executive agreement, but that if this is so, some other arrangement might be worked out. Mr. Capomazza said that the Embassy would like to reply by telegraph to the inquiry received from Rome on this subject, and asked whether we could give him any more definite indication of what might be done to meet the situation to which he refers. I told him I would submit the matter to the appropriate officers of the Department and see whether we could not tell him something more definite in the course of a few days. He said that he would greatly appreciate it if we could let him know by next Monday.

Mr. Capomazza indicated in the course of the discussion that what the Italian Government is concerned with is the President’s letter of instructions to the Secretary of the Treasury under which the application of our trade agreements rates to Italian products would be suspended as soon as the present treaty obligations lapse.

Harry C. Hawkins
  1. Not printed.
  2. Nobile Benedetto Capomazza, Secretary of the Italian Embassy.