611.5131/1868a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Bullitt)

506. 1. A memorandum has been given to the French Ambassador, of which the text is as follows:

“The trade-agreements organization of this Government has given careful consideration to the possibility of undertaking negotiations for a comprehensive revision of the trade agreement with France.12 If the two Governments find themselves in agreement on the points outlined below, and if they are both satisfied that the negotiations [Page 487] can be brought to a prompt conclusion, this Government is prepared to issue the usual public notice of intention to negotiate anew agreement, and to proceed as rapidly as possible with the negotiations.

1. With reference to possible concessions by the United States, the first step in the procedural requirements is to publish, with the notice of intention to negotiate, a list of all products to which consideration for the granting of such concessions might be given. The publication of such a list would not, of course, mean that it will be found possible to grant concessions on all of the products listed, but merely that consideration of possible concessions will be confined to the published list. Since, under the procedure followed by this Government, no product could be included in a new trade agreement without having been published in the list, it is important that an understanding be reached, in advance of its publication, as to the products to be included in the list. After careful study the trade-agreements organization has drawn up the list which is enclosed herewith13 and which, it is believed, includes all products of which either France or the French Colonial Empire is the chief source or an important source of imports into the United States. The list includes, of course, all products on which concessions are accorded to France by the United States in the present agreement.

If, therefore, it should be decided to proceed with the negotiations, this Government would appreciate being informed as promptly as possible whether there is any product not included in the enclosed list which the French Government would wish to have considered in the negotiations.

2. With regard to possible concessions which might be accorded by France to the United States, there appears to be no need for this Government to make detailed proposals prior to the public announcement above referred to, since it is understood that French procedure does not require the issuance of a list of products for consideration. It should be emphasized, however, that this Government could not make a revised trade agreement giving substantially increased concessions on French products without receiving, in return, substantially increased concessions on American products.

In order to provide an adequate basis for the opening of negotiations, this Government will be satisfied if the French Government will undertake to consider and discuss, during the negotiations, any requests or proposals which this Government may make under the following categories:

Any request with respect to any article of which the United States is the principal or an important supplier of imports into France, for a reduction of the tariff duty or any similar charge, an enlargement or suppression of the quota, or a combination of a reduction of the tariff duty with enlargement or suppression of the quota;
Any proposal for revision of the terms of the present agreement, with special reference to the exceptions to most-favored-nation treatment; and
Any request for concessions on imports into the French Colonies of articles of which the United States is an important supplier.

[Page 488]

With respect to the trade between the United States and the French Colonies, the enclosed list includes at the end a number of products of which the French Colonial Empire is the principal or an important supplier. Some of the articles included in the main part of the list as being imported chiefly from France are, also, it is believed, of interest to the French Colonies.

Careful consideration has been given to the proposals regarding the purchase of cotton and copper outlined in the memorandum recently given to Ambassador Bullitt by Mr. Alphand.14 These proposals envisage the immediate purchase of specified quantities of the two products, but do not look towards a continued flow of trade. The new tariff concessions which might be made by the United States in a revised agreement, on the other hand, would be expected to remain in effect over an extended period of years. This Government could enter into a new trade agreement only if the concessions made by the United States could be justified by concessions of identical duration made by France.

On the other hand, this Government is particularly desirous of expanding the exports of cotton from the United States. In addition, this Government is aware that an expansion of the export trade of France would make it less difficult for France to secure the reserve stocks of cotton, and the other materials and equipment which are required for national defense. In the negotiations for a new trade agreement with France, this Government would of course not ignore these considerations.

This Government is not at present prepared to suggest a formula by which purchases of cotton or other materials by France could be specifically dealt with in a trade agreement, but would be prepared to consider the question when the other terms of the agreement shall have been formulated.”

2. The Department expects to rely considerably on your advice regarding the new agreement, with special reference to concessions we should request and any additional safeguards for American trade in France which we should have included in the text.

  1. See Foreign Relations, 1936, vol. ii, pp. 85 ff. For text of agreement, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 146, or 53 Stat. 2236.
  2. Not printed.
  3. French Director of Commercial Accords.