The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Belgium (Wilson)
Washington, July 31, 1939—5 p.m.
47. Your 91, July 25, 1 p.m.
- You are requested to inform the Belgian authorities that if the additions to our list which the Belgian Government intends to propose do not reach us until September 15, and if notice of intention to negotiate cannot be issued until after that date, negotiations cannot, under our procedure, begin until the latter part of October. This would be a far greater delay than was conceived likely when we made our proposal of May 19. Consequently, if no public notice can be issued before September 15 we will have to reconsider our proposal of May 19. On the other hand, it is permissible under our procedure, to issue a supplementary notice after the publication of the first notice, listing additional items.
- In order to avoid further delay, we are prepared to proceed as follows. Announcement would be made immediately, listing the articles included in annex A to our memorandum of May 19, together with the items suggested below in paragraph 5 and such of the items in paragraph 6 as the Belgian Government may wish. Negotiations could then be started early in September. If, after the Belgian Government has received the replies to its questionnaire, it is found that any articles on which the Belgian Government considers it important to secure a concession and which we would feel justified in including in the negotiations have not been included in our public announcement, we will give the most sympathetic consideration to any request which the Belgian [Government] may make for the publication of a supplementary announcement in the latter part of September, provided that the trade in such articles is of sufficient importance.
- As regards the list of articles on which we might be interested in asking concessions of Belgium, it is not possible for us to limit ourselves to a definitive list before the public hearings on the proposed negotiations, since this would be contrary to the intent of our law which requires that the views expressed by our producers be taken into account in the negotiations. However, with the supplement to our list, given below in paragraph 7, we have covered all the items which, on the basis of an analysis of trade statistics, would appear to be of special interest to us.
- As regards the word “generally” in our memorandum, it is our policy to reserve a tariff concession on any article so far as practicable for the country which seems likely to be the most important beneficiary. In general this means the country which is the chief source of supply, but there are exceptions, as in the case of articles of which Czechoslovakia has been the chief source in recent years, where the second largest source of supply is, under present conditions, considered likely to be the main beneficiary of any concession which might be made. Only under special circumstances are we prepared to depart from the first supplier rule.
- We are prepared to list with our public notice, in addition to those included in Annex A to our memorandum of May 19, the following items: …
- In addition, we are prepared to list the following items if the Belgian Government so desires, although it is doubtful if Belgium would benefit much from any concessions we might make on these items: …
- The following is a list of the items, in addition to those included in Annex B, which would appear to be of interest to the United States: …
- Please impress upon the Belgian authorities our desire to receive at the earliest possible moment a reply indicating whether they will consent to our publishing an announcement of intention to negotiate subject to the conditions stated above, and whether they wish any of the items listed in paragraph 6 to be added to our list for publication.
- The Belgian Embassy, on instructions from Brussels has asked us to indicate the nature of concessions we would ask on certain products. We replied that we normally do not formulate our requests until we have studied evidence presented by private interests at hearings, and we would not wish the Belgian Government to embark on negotiations on assumptions which might turn out to be unfounded after we had examined the whole trade between the two countries in the light of information obtained from traders.