The Chargé in Switzerland (Bigelow) to the Secretary of State

No. 5052

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 4090 of July 1, 1937,13 and to report that to date no indication has been received from the Swiss authorities as to when a reply may be [Page 571] expected to the Legation’s note of March 25, 1937,14 in regard to the Swiss stamp tax on customs receipts.

Nothing further has been heard from Mr. Stucki in regard to this matter since he spoke to me and to Mr. Wilson on the subject last September, as reported in the Legation’s despatch No. 4595 of September 23, 1936.14 The Department will recall that, at that time, Mr. Stucki expressed regret that the difficulty had arisen; he admitted quite frankly that a mistake had been made by the Swiss Government and he sincerely hoped, he said, that in view of the “relative slight importance of the material aspects of the case” the United States Government would not find it necessary to oblige the Swiss Government to ask Parliament to take steps to amend the Act in question. In conversation with the Minister a few days later, he repeated substantially the same remarks, adding that he would be willing to give an undertaking that no further imposition of this tax would be made.

I may add that I know it to be Mr. Wilson’s feeling that this matter should not be pressed too hard, unless there is complaint in regard thereto from American business. We feel that the figures of Swiss imports from the United States are gaining in a satisfactory way, that the Swiss authorities are showing themselves in cooperative mood, that a mistake was avowedly made in imposing this tax so far as the United States is concerned, but that it would be embarrassing to the Swiss Government to readjust their financial system, which would be necessary in excepting American products from the operation of the tax and making the same exemption to other nations under the operation of the most-favored-nation arrangements, and that assurances have been given that there will be no increased imposition of the tax.

In view of the foregoing I prefer not to push the matter further unless the Department feels strongly that the Legation should take further action in regard to its note of March 25, 1937 (despatch No. 4891 of March 31, 193714), and cares so to advise me, perhaps by telegram.

Respectfully yours,

Donald F. Bigelow
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.