The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 9—3:50 p.m.]
219. A conversation at the Foreign Office today has confirmed the information which we have previously cabled regarding the Franco-British [Page 861]commercial agreement concerning Morocco, and added the following (in confidence):
The agreement consolidates duties on goods representing approximately 15 per cent of the value of Moroccan imports during the past year, excluding cotton goods; or, if duty consolidations on cotton goods are included, about 25 per cent of the total value of Moroccan imports.
The French went on the principle that they would consider binding duties on goods of which the British had furnished at least 50 per cent of total Moroccan imports. For this purpose import figures were not confined to the last year only, since British trade has been falling off in recent years with Morocco and it seemed equitable to strike an average over a number of years.
Among the articles on which Moroccan duties are bound are: cotton goods (a long schedule), coal, articles of iron and steel, preserved fruits and jellies, toys, tea, whiskies, gin. Also, duties are bound on certain articles of interest to the colonies such as dried codfish and fuel oil. In return articles of special interest to Moroccan production, such as phosphates, palm fiber (closely defined so as to apply only to fibers produced in Morocco), perfume, oils, etc., are admitted free of duty in Great Britain (and presumably in the colonies).
The Foreign Office states that when they negotiate with us they hope to proceed on the same lines; namely, to consolidate duties on articles of which we furnish an important share of Moroccan imports and in return to obtain admission duty free of goods of essentially Moroccan production. As regards quotas, the Foreign Office reiterates that they understand perfectly that whatever has been agreed to with the British stands subject to our approval as well as to the consent of other interested countries. They feel moreover that nothing in the agreement with the British is incompatible with our position regarding quotas as set out in the Department’s 32, January 26 , 11 a.m.
The French state that they prevailed upon the British to drop the idea of scheduling goods on which internal taxes would be bound and to agree to treat this question in the form described in our 201, February 7, 1 p.m., because of the fact that taxes of this sort represent about 33% of Moroccan budgetary receipts. It is therefore essential for the Moroccan Government to have some freedom in fixing rates of internal taxes on imported goods, subject to the understanding that these taxes will not be levied in such a way as to nullify advantages obtained by duty consolidations.
According to the Foreign Office the agreement will be signed as soon as the French Government is advised by the Dominion Governments that they accept the application of the agreement to their trade [Page 862]with Morocco. The agreement with exchanges of notes and schedules will then be published. No announcement will be made of the conclusion of the negotiations until February 12 when de Tessan20 will make a speech in Morocco stating that France is now ready to negotiate commercial agreements concerting [concerning?] Morocco with other interested countries.
Copy to London and Tangier.
- François de Tessan, French Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.↩