The Minister in Switzerland (Harrison) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 2.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 4140 of August 16, 1937, enclosing a copy of a letter dated August 9, [Page 572] 1937,16 from Mr. Charles R. Weaver of the Automobile Manufacturers Association, of Washington, D. C., concerning alleged inequality of treatment on the part of the. Swiss Government in the matter of automobile imports in bond.
In compliance with the Department’s instruction, the Legation has investigated this matter and ascertained that discrimination does, in fact, exist in the treatment of automobiles shipped to Switzerland for uncertain sale. According to a communication dated October 8 from the Inspector General of Customs (copy and translation enclosed),17 automobiles shipped from certain countries, on consignment to dealers in Switzerland, may be entered under bond, valid for one year, provided the country of origin grants reciprocal treatment to Swiss goods. Such reciprocity, the Legation was informed, is accorded by Germany, Austria, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and Turkey. The Inspector General’s letter added that the entry of automobiles of American origin under similar conditions could not be contemplated unless Swiss merchandise were accorded the same treatment by the American customs authorities.
With regard to applicability of most-favored-nation clause in Article X of the trade agreement between Switzerland and the United States, it was claimed that this clause had relation only to customs duties and other customs charges, method of collection of duty, formalities and charges levied in connection with customs clearance, and that the most-favored-nation clause had never been applied to goods entering temporarily.
I replied to this communication by addressing an informal note to Doctor Hotz, Director of the Commercial Division of the Federal Department of Public Economy, on October 12, in which I called attention to the letter which Mr. Bigelow, Chargé d’Affaires, had written to him on June 25, 1936, concerning the temporary free entry of automobile tractors (Legation’s despatch No. 4513 of August 8, 193617). I stated that I hoped that the considerations set forth in that letter, irrespective of the interpretation of Article X of the trade agreement, will be regarded by the Swiss authorities as constituting substantially such reciprocal treatment as would permit the Swiss Government to give the same treatment to American automobiles as to automobiles imported on a consignment basis from France, Germany and certain other countries. A copy of my note to Doctor Hotz is also enclosed,17 as well as a copy of the Legation’s original inquiry in this matter, dated September 3, 1937.18[Page 573]
As soon as I have received a reply to my note of October 12, I will repeat the contents of the reply to the Department for its consideration.