The Assistant Secretary of State (Sayre) to the Ambassador in Belgium (Davies)
My Dear Mr. Davies: You have doubtless noted that the last two paragraphs of the Department’s instruction no. 24 of October 11, 1938 referred to the Belgian counter-draft of the proposed general provisions of the trade agreement. It was suggested that you might wish to mention this subject to Mr. Spaak at a convenient opportunity.
You may be interested in knowing that this matter came up during the course of a brief conversation which I had with the Belgian Ambassador, Count van der Straten, when he called on October 11 upon his return to Washington from home leave. The Ambassador said that he had discussed the general provisions with Mr. Suetens before leaving Brussels. Mr. Suetens had told him that, although their counter-draft was nearly ready, one or two points were causing them concern. I suggested to the Ambassador that we would be very glad to discuss such points with a view to doing whatever we could to expedite the matter.
It occurs to me that you may wish to follow up my discussion with the Ambassador by calling on Mr. Spaak at a conveniently early date to discuss the matter with him. Although, as I suggested to the Ambassador, we would be very glad to discuss any particular points of difficulty which may have arisen, I am inclined to believe that it would be preferable to discuss such points after receiving the Belgian counter-draft rather than before. I believe that our comprehension of their difficulties would be greater if we could consider them in the light of the Belgian proposals as a whole.
Trade-agreement negotiations with various countries continue to occupy a great deal of our time and attention. In some cases, of course, there have been difficult problems to overcome but I feel that we are making satisfactory progress. Although the negotiations with the United Kingdom and Canadian trade delegations have been long and arduous I am hopeful that we shall be able to bring them to a successful conclusion in the near future.
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