Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1937, The British Commonwealth, Europe, Near East and Africa, Volume II
The Secretary of State to the Minister in Liberia (Walton)
Sir: There are enclosed herewith for transmission to the Liberian Government at such time as you deem appropriate, a proposed note and a draft treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation.
It is believed that the note explains sufficiently the purpose of the draft treaty, but if there is any point with regard to the note or draft treaty concerning which you are in doubt you should communicate with the Department by cable.
If the proposal to negotiate on the basis of the enclosed draft meets with the approval of the Liberian Government, the Department wishes you to proceed at once to conduct the negotiations, asking for such additional instructions as may be required. You should report all developments promptly by mail, using the telegraph also when to [Page 787] do so promises to save substantial amounts of time without substantial increase in your normal expenditure for tolls.
The Department expects shortly to send to you, likewise for proposal to the Liberian Government, the draft of a consular convention between the United States and Liberia. It is desired that the consular relations between the two countries shall also be regulated by modern and comprehensive treaty provisions.
Very truly yours,
Draft of Proposed Note to the Liberian Government6
Excellency: Acting on instructions from my Government I have the honor to recall to your Excellency that nearly seventy-five years have elapsed since the existing Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the United States and the Republic of Liberia was negotiated and signed in London. This has been a period marked by great advances in communications and transportation and by far-reaching developments in international trade throughout the world which have affected our two nations.
During the World War and particularly in the unhappy years of world depression, innumerable obstacles to commerce were devised by many countries which have not failed to have a harmful effect on the normal flow of international commerce. My Government recognizing the seriousness of the situation has therefore from time to time during recent years re-examined the Treaties of Commerce and Navigation between the United States and other countries with a view to modernizing its international economic relationships and thus contributing to a freer and more mutually profitable trade between nations.
While trade between the United States and Liberia fortunately is relatively free from the more acute problems, my Government nevertheless feels that the Treaty signed October 21, 1862, is no longer adequate to meet the needs of its parties. For example, Articles IV and VI of the Treaty in providing for expressly conditional most-favored-nations treatment in customs matters are not in harmony with the present policy of the Government of the United States, or it is believed, with modern enlightened international practice.
For these and other reasons, my Government has instructed me to communicate to Your Excellency the enclosed copy of a draft treaty on the basis of which it desires to negotiate, if agreeable to the Government of Liberia, an entirely new treaty of friendship, [Page 788] commerce and navigation more nearly responsive to the present-day needs of the two countries.
I may observe in the foregoing connection that the provisions of the draft treaty follow those now used in American treaties of this kind, save the draft provisions respecting quotas, exchange control and monopolies (Articles IX, X and XI). Practically the same provisions in respect of quotas and monopolies (Articles IX and XI) appear in many of the recent trade agreements of the United States, and the provision (Article X) concerning foreign exchange control is now the subject of trade agreement negotiations between the United States and certain other countries.
At a later date my Government would like to propose an additional article7 to be inserted at a convenient place in the treaty for the purpose of dealing with the exploration and exploitation of the mineral resources on the public domain of the respective countries.
It is understood, of course, that either Government would be free at any time during the course of negotiations to propose further changes.
In closing, my Government instructs me to reiterate to Your Excellency that, in view of the marked progress made by Liberia during the past three years and the more prominent place which Liberia has thus made for herself among the family of nations, and especially from the point of view of the traditional friendship existing between the United States and Liberia, it is felt that this is an appropriate time to bring the treaty relations between the two Governments into harmony with modern practice.
Draft Articles of Proposed Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation8
The nationals of each of the High Contracting Parties shall be permitted to enter, travel and reside in the territories of the other; to exercise liberty of conscience and freedom of worship; to engage in professional, scientific, religious, philanthropic, manufacturing and commercial work of every kind without interference; to carry on every form of commercial activity which is not forbidden by the local law; to own, erect or lease and occupy appropriate buildings and to [Page 789] lease lands for residential, scientific, religious, philanthropic, manufacturing, commercial and mortuary purposes; to employ agents of their choice, and generally to do anything incidental to or necessary for the enjoyment of any of the foregoing privileges upon the same terms as nationals of the State of residence or as nationals of the nation hereafter to be most favored by it, submitting themselves to all local laws and regulations duly established.
The nationals of either High Contracting Party within the territories of the other shall not be subjected to the payment of any internal charges or taxes other or higher than those that are exacted of and paid by nationals of the State of residence.
The nationals of each High Contracting Party shall enjoy freedom of access to the courts of justice of the other on conforming to the local laws, as well for the prosecution as for the defense of their rights, and in all degrees of jurisdiction established by law.
The nationals of each High Contracting Party shall receive within the territories of the other, upon submitting to conditions imposed upon its nationals, the most constant protection and security for their persons and property, and shall enjoy in this respect that degree of protection that is required by international law. Their property shall not be taken without due process of law and without payment of just compensation.
Nothing contained in this Treaty shall be construed to affect existing statutes of either of the High Contracting Parties in relation to emigration or to immigration or the right of either of the High Contracting Parties to enact such statutes, provided, however, that nothing in this paragraph shall prevent the nationals of either High Contracting Party from entering, traveling and residing in the territories of the other Party in order to carry on international trade or to engage in any commercial activity related to or connected with the conduct of international trade on the same terms as nationals of the most favored nation.
The dwellings, warehouses, manufactories, shops, and other places of business, and all premises thereto appertaining of the nationals of each of the High Contracting Parties in the territories of the other, used for any purposes set forth in Article I, shall be respected. It shall not be allowable to make a domiciliary visit to, or search of any such buildings and premises, or there to examine and inspect books, papers or accounts, except under the conditions and in conformity with the forms prescribed by the laws, ordinances and regulations for nationals of the state of residence or nationals of the nation most favored by it.[Page 790]
Where, on the death of any person holding real or other immovable property or interests therein within the territories of one High Contracting Party, such property or interests therein would, by the laws of the country or by a testamentary disposition, descend or pass to a national of the other High Contracting Party, whether resident or non-resident, were he not disqualified by the laws of the country where such property or interests therein is or are situated, such national shall be allowed a term of three years in which to sell the same, this term to be reasonably prolonged if circumstances render it necessary, and withdraw the proceeds thereof, without restraint or interference, and exempt from any estate succession, probate or administrative duties or charges other than those which may be imposed in like cases upon the nationals of the country from which such proceeds may be drawn.
Nationals of either High Contracting Party may have full power to dispose of their personal property of every kind within the territories of the other, by testament, donation, or otherwise, and their heirs, legatees and donees, of whatsoever nationality, whether resident or non-resident, shall succeed to such personal property, and may take possession thereof, either by themselves or by others acting for them, and retain or dispose of the same at their pleasure subject to the payment of such duties or charges only as the nationals of the High Contracting Party within whose territories such property may be or belong shall be liable to pay in like cases. In the same way, personal property left to nationals of one of the High Contracting Parties by nationals of the other High Contracting Party, and being within the territories of such other Party, shall be subject to the payment of such duties or charges only as the nationals of the High Contracting Party within whose territories such property may be or belong shall be liable to pay in like cases.
With respect to customs duties or charges of any kind imposed on or in connection with importation or exportation, and with respect to the method of levying such duties or charges, and with respect to all rules and formalities in connection with importation or exportation, and with respect to all laws or regulations affecting the sale, taxation, or use of imported goods within the country, any advantage, favor, privilege or immunity which has been or may hereafter be granted by either High Contracting Party to any article originating in or destined for any third country, shall be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the like article originating in or destined for the other High Contracting Party.[Page 791]
With respect to the amount and collection of duties on imports and exports of every kind, each of the two High Contracting Parties binds itself to give to the nationals, vessels and goods of the other the advantage of every favor, privilege or immunity which it shall have accorded to the nationals, vessels and goods of a third State, whether such favored State shall have been accorded such treatment gratuitously or in return for reciprocal conpensatory treatment. Every such favor, privilege or immunity which shall hereafter be granted to nationals, vessels or goods of a third State shall simultaneously and unconditionally, without request and without compensation, be extended to the other High Contracting Party, for the benefit of itself, its nationals, vessels, and goods.
Neither of the High Contracting Parties shall establish or maintain any import or export prohibition or restriction on any article originating in or destined for the territory of the other High Contracting Party, which is not applied to the like article originating in or destined for any third country. Any abolition of an import or export prohibition or restriction which may be granted even temporarily by either High Contracting Party in favor of an article originating in or destined for a third country shall be applied immediately and unconditionally to the like article originating in or destined for the territory of the other High Contracting Party.
If either High Contracting Party establishes or maintains any form of quantitative restriction or control of the importation or sale of any article in which the other High Contracting Party has an interest, or imposes a lower import duty or charge on the importation or sale of a specified quantity of any such article than the duty or charge imposed on importations in excess of such quantity, the High Contracting Party taking such action shall, upon request, inform the other High Contracting Party as to the total quantity, or any change therein, of any such article permitted to be imported or sold or permitted to be imported or sold at such lower duty or charge during a specified period, and shall allot to the other High Contracting Party for such specified period a proportion of such total quantity as originally established or subsequently changed in any manner equivalent to the proportion of the total importation of such article which the other High Contracting Party supplied during a previous representative period, unless it is mutually agreed to dispense with such allotment. Neither of the High Contracting Parties shall regulate the total quantity of importations into its territory or sales therein of any article in which the other High Contracting Party has an interest by import licenses or permits issued to individuals or organizations, unless [Page 792] the total quantity of such article permitted to be imported or sold during a quota period of not less than three months shall have been established, and unless the regulations covering the issuance of such licenses or permits shall have been made public before such regulations are put into force.
If either High Contracting Party establishes or maintains, directly or indirectly, any form of control of the means of international payment, it shall, in the administration of such control:
- Impose no prohibition, restriction, or delay on the transfer of payment for imported articles the growth, produce, or manufacture of the other High Contracting Party, or of payments necessary for and incidental to the importation of such articles;
- Accord unconditionally, with respect to rates of exchange and taxes or surcharges on exchange transactions in connection with payments for or payments necessary and incidental to the importation of articles the growth, produce, or manufacture of the other High Contracting Party, treatment no less favorable than that accorded in connection with the importation of any article whatsoever the growth, produce, or manufacture of any third country; and
- Accord unconditionally, with respect to all rules and formalities applying to exchange transactions in connection with payments for or payments necessary and incidental to the importation of articles the growth, produce, or manufacture of the other High Contracting Party, treatment no less favorable than that accorded in connection with the importation of the like articles the growth, produce, or manufacture of any third country.
With respect to non-commercial transactions, each High Contracting Party shall apply any form of control of the means of international payment in a non-discriminatory manner as between the nationals of the other High Contracting Party and the nationals of any third country.
In the event that either High Contracting Party establishes or maintains a monopoly for the importation, production or sale of a particular commodity or grants exclusive privileges, formally or in effect, to one or more agencies to import, produce or sell a particular commodity, the High Contracting Party establishing or maintaining such monopoly, or granting such monopoly privileges, agrees that in respect of the foreign purchases of such monopoly or agency the commerce of the other High Contracting Party shall receive fair and equitable treatment. To this end it is agreed that in making its foreign purchases of any product such monopoly or agency will be influenced solely by those considerations such as price, quality, marketability, and terms of sale, which would ordinarily be taken into [Page 793] account by a private commercial enterprise interested solely in purchasing such product on the most favorable terms.
The vessels and cargoes of one of the High Contracting Parties shall, within the territorial waters and harbors of the other Party in all respects and unconditionally be accorded the same treatment as the vessels and cargoes of that Party, irrespective of the port of departure of the vessel, or the port of destination, and irrespective of the origin or the destination of the cargo. It is especially agreed that no duties of tonnage, harbor, pilotage, lighthouse, quarantine, or other similar or corresponding duties or charges of whatever denomination, levied in the name or for the profit of the Government, public functionaries, private individuals, corporations or establishments of any kind shall be imposed in the ports of the territories or territorial waters of either country upon the vessels of the other, which shall not equally, under the same conditions, be imposed on national vessels.
Limited liability and other corporations and associations, whether or not for pecuniary profit, which have been or may hereafter be organized in accordance with and under the laws, National, State or Provincial, of either High Contracting Party and which maintain a central office within the territories thereof, shall have their juridical status recognized by the other High Contracting Party provided that they pursue no aims within its territories contrary to its laws. They shall enjoy free access to the courts of law and equity, on conforming to the laws regulating the matter, as well for the prosecution as for the defense of rights in all the degrees of jurisdiction established by law.
The right of corporations and associations of either High Contracting Party which have been so recognized by the other to establish themselves in the territories of the other Party or to establish branch offices and fulfill their functions therein shall depend upon and be governed solely by the consent of such Party as expressed in its National, State, or Provincial laws.
(Article regarding development of mineral resources to be supplied later.)
There shall be complete freedom of transit through the territories including territorial waters of each High Contracting Party on the routes most convenient for international transit, by rail, navigable [Page 794] waterway, and canal, other than the Panama Canal and waterways and canals which constitute international boundaries, to persons and goods coming from, going to or passing through the territories of the other High Contracting Party, except such persons as may be forbidden admission into its territories or goods of which the importation may be prohibited by law or regulations. The measures of a general or particular character which either of the High Contracting Parties is obliged to take in case of an emergency affecting the safety of the State or vital interests of the country may, in exceptional cases and for as short a period as possible, involve a deviation from the provisions of this paragraph, it being understood that the principle of freedom of transit must be observed to the utmost possible extent.
Persons and goods in transit shall not be subjected to any transit duty, or to any unnecessary delays or restrictions, or to any discrimination as regards charges, facilities, or any other matter.
Goods in transit must be entered at the proper customhouse, but they shall be exempt from all customs or other similar duties.
All charges imposed on transport in transit shall be reasonable, having regard to the conditions of the traffic.
Nothing in this Article shall affect the right of either of the High Contracting Parties to prohibit or restrict the transit of arms, munitions and military equipment in accordance with treaties or conventions that may have been or may hereafter be entered into by either Party with other countries.
Civil aircraft of the United States of America shall receive, in all respects, in Liberia the most-favored-nation treatment; provided that the benefit of this provision may be withheld in respect of any matter in regard to which the authorities of the Government of the United States of America should be unwilling to grant a similar privilege in respect of civil aircraft of Liberia.
Nothing in this Treaty shall be construed to prevent the adoption of measures prohibiting or restricting the exportation or importation of gold or silver, or to prevent the adoption of such measures as either High Contracting Party may see fit with respect to the control of the export or sale for export of arms, ammunition, or implements of war, and, in exceptional circumstances, all other military supplies.
Subject to the requirement that, under like circumstances and conditions, there shall be no arbitrary discrimination by either High Contracting Party against the other High Contracting Party in favor [Page 795] of any third country, the stipulations of this Treaty shall not extend to prohibitions or restrictions (1) imposed on moral or humanitarian grounds; (2) designed to protect human, animal, or plant life or health; (3) relating to prison-made goods; (4) relating to the enforcement of police or revenue laws.
The stipulations of this treaty do not extend to advantages now accorded or which may hereafter be accorded to neighboring States in order to facilitate short frontier traffic, or to advantages resulting from a customs union to which either High Contracting Party may become a party so long as such advantages are not extended to any other country.
The stipulations of this Treaty do not extend to advantages now accorded or which may hereafter be accorded by the United States of America, its territories or possessions or the Panama Canal Zone to one another or to the Republic of Cuba. The provisions of this paragraph shall continue to apply in respect of any advantages now or hereafter accorded by the United States of America, its territories or possessions or the Panama Canal Zone to one another, irrespective of any change in the political status of any of the territories or possessions of the United States of America.
- Presented to the Liberian Secretary of State, July 19, 1937.↩
- See instruction No. 56, October 16, to the Minister in Liberia, p. 797.↩
- Only the articles about which there were subsequent negotiations are printed here. The remaining draft articles are the same as the final text except for a few incidental changes.↩