The Department of State to the Belgian Embassy


Reference is made to the Belgian Embassy’s memorandum of October 24, 1939, indicating the readiness of the Belgian Government to proceed with negotiations for a revised trade agreement with the United States. This Government finds itself in general accord with the suggestions for procedure made by the Belgian Government and will be glad to undertake to transmit a list of its desiderata and a draft of the general provisions, both of which are now in process of preparation, through the American Embassy at Brussels at as early a date as the usual procedure of consultation with the different governmental agencies and other appropriate sources concerned makes possible. When the Belgian Government has completed its study of this material, this Government will be glad to consult with the Belgian Embassy in Washington as to the place where, in the light of the situation prevailing at that time, it may appear that the negotiations might most appropriately be held.

It is this Government’s understanding that the Belgian Government has had under consideration the possibility of requesting that this Government consider granting concessions on certain products in addition to those contained in the list of products on which the United States will consider granting concessions published on August 16, 1939, and that such a list of products would not be likely to differ substantially from the tentative list presented informally to the American Embassy in Brussels last August. The publication of a supplementary [Page 436] list of products on which the United States will consider granting concessions would, of course, occasion a material delay in the date of conclusion of the negotiations, since, following such publication, it would be necessary for this Government to allow sufficient time for receiving representations relative thereto from interested persons and to hold public hearings. It would probably not be possible to start negotiations relative to products on a supplementary list until at least six weeks following the publication of such list.

In this connection this Government would like to point out that preliminary study of the tentative list furnished the American Embassy in August indicates that in a great majority of cases Belgium is a relatively minor supplier of the products contained therein. Preliminary study indicates that in 1938 United States imports from Belgium of dutiable products in this list of which Belgium has been, or could reasonably be expected to be in the future, a supplier in sufficient proportion to warrant their consideration for possible inclusion in a supplementary published list amounted only to about $300,000. It would hardly appear likely that, even if this Government makes liberal allowance for certain existing special trade conditions in interpreting its customary policy of restricting concessions to products of which the other country is the principal or important supplier, it could consent to including more than a relatively small part of the additional products tentatively mentioned by the Belgian Government in a published supplementary list of products to be considered for concessions.

Inasmuch as this Government is in full accord with the apparent desire of the Belgian Government to proceed with trade-agreement negotiations without undue delay it ventures to express the hope that in the circumstances the Belgian Government may decide not to request the issuance of a supplementary list. If, however, the Belgian Government wishes that such a list be published this Government would appreciate receiving as soon as possible a definitive list of the products which the Belgian Government desires to have considered for such publication.