The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Bullitt )
170. London has been requested to repeat to you by mail its 200, April 7, 6 p.m., which reports an agreement by the British to relinquish capitulations in Morocco. We have, of course, expected this. With the consummation of such an agreement we anticipate that the French will soon approach us, probably through you.
Our essential interest in Morocco is one of trade. We want maintained the existing principles governing Moroccan trade, namely “economic liberty without inequality”. This means equality with all, including France. Anything less than equality with France means the dissipation of a large percentage of our existing exports to Morocco. France apparently feels that she and her trade should be in a preferred position. The Act of Algeciras2 and other Moroccan treaties have made it impossible for France to obtain this preferred position juridically. Nevertheless through decrees and administrative tactics the Protectorate authorities have sought to obtain this position for French commerce. Decrees and regulations may because of our capitulatory position be applied to American nationals and ressortissants only in the event this Government gives its assent. Capitulations in Morocco have therefore become of prime importance in the protection of our trade. This represents our essential interest in the maintenance of capitulations. Any relinquishment of our present capitulatory rights would have to be accompanied by real guarantees for our commerce.
Once the British renounce their capitulations we apprehend that the French will bring insistent pressure to bear on us, the only remaining capitulatory power, to renounce our rights also. If the French approach us we will be obliged to negotiate. We of course do not wish to make the first move. However, the foregoing may be helpful to you in watching developments and particularly in case the French approach you in the matter.
We would welcome any information or ideas you may have along these lines.