Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Alling)
|Participants:||Mr. Giuseppe Cosmelli, Counselor of Italian Embassy|
Mr. Cosmelli stated that the Italian Embassy had had an inquiry from Rome requesting information as to the position of the American Government with respect to the capitulations in Morocco and its views regarding the right of the French Government to increase import customs duties in the French Zone. Mr. Cosmelli explained that his own Government held the view that the French Government was barred by the terms of the Act of Algeciras from raising import customs duties in the French Zone without the consent of the signatories of the Act of Algeciras.
Mr. Murray explained that the French Government had approached us some months ago with a request to terminate our capitulatory rights and that we had replied that we would consider such an arrangement, but at the same time we should want a commercial convention, which we now lacked, to cover our trade rights in the French Zone. We had not yet had a reply to this proposal, but one was expected at any time. In so far as the question of increased customs duties was concerned, we had informed the French Government in 1935 [1934,]37 that we should have no objection to limited increases in duties, for revenue purposes only, on a limited list of goods. We had not, however, ever expressed our views on the legal question whether the French Government could make such increases without the consent of the signatories of the Act of Algeciras.
Mr. Murray inquired whether the Italian-French negotiations which had recently been taking place in Rome covered the Moroccan question. Mr. Cosmelli said that he was not fully informed on this point but that it was his impression that the negotiations did not cover [Page 881]Morocco since they were in general on a more restricted scale than the Anglo-Italian arrangements. Mr. Murray said that we should be interested in receiving any information that the Embassy might obtain as to the legal basis for the Italian position that the French Government was barred by the provisions of the Act of Algeciras from increasing import customs duties in the French Zone of Morocco.