Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The Cuban Ambassador1 called to see me this evening. The Ambassador brought up the question of the revision of the Trade Agreement2 and said that by his instruction the appropriate officials in the Cuban Government were seeking to determine what additional concessions Cuba could offer to the United States and what points in the existing Trade Agreement which were giving rise to friction between the two Governments might well be modified in any new agreement.

I told the Ambassador that our desire was to limit the revision so far as might be possible in order that it might be considered a revised agreement and not a new agreement. I said that the points we now had under consideration were an increase in the reduction of duty which could be granted Cuba on sugar under the provisions of the Trade Agreement Act;3 the restitution to Cuba of benefits on tobacco which Cuba had obtained in the original agreement; and certain other questions, such as the excise tax on Cuban rum, et cetera.

The Ambassador said the chief concession to the United States which his Government had in mind was an increased advantage on American-grown rice.

I told the Ambassador that I had seen from some of the telegrams sent recently by Mr. Beaulac4 that the President of Cuba apparently had it in mind that the announcement of the intention of both Governments to revise the Trade Agreement could be made immediately, that is, before the settlement by the Cuban Government of its obligations to the two American creditor groups. I told the Ambassador that this was out of the question; that no announcement of any kind could be made until after November 8 and that I was not certain how soon after that date it would be possible to agree upon the steps preliminary to such announcement. The Ambassador said he fully [Page 473] understood this and had so stated emphatically to the President of Cuba.

I took occasion to tell the Ambassador how deeply gratified I was by the results of his trip to Cuba and that it seemed to me that a basis now existed for a satisfactory and fair solution of the matters regarding which he and I had been so much concerned during these recent weeks. I concluded by saying that our very earnest desire was to continue to cooperate in every possible way to the advantage of Cuba and to the advantage of the interests of the two countries and that if Cuba was now prepared to do her share, as seemed evident from what the Ambassador told me, I felt many advances could be made which would be highly beneficial to the peoples of both countries. The Ambassador seemed personally greatly satisfied with the result of his conversations in Habana and entirely relieved as to his own situation vis-à-vis his own Government.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Pedro Martínez Fraga.
  2. Signed August 24, 1934, Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. v, p. 169.
  3. Approved June 12, 1934; 48 Stat. 943.
  4. Willard L. Beaulac, First Secretary of Embassy in Cuba.