The Department of State to the Italian Embassy


The Aide-Mémoire of July 17, 1939, received from the Italian Embassy refers to the application of countervailing duties to certain Italian products when imported into the United States and also expresses the desire of the Italian Government to discuss with this Government the whole problem of the commercial exchanges between Italy and the United States.

With reference to the imposition of countervailing duties on certain Italian products under Section 303 of the Tariff Act, it is necessary to repeat that the provisions of the law are mandatory. As was explained during the conversations which took place in Rome in the [Page 645] month of June between the representatives of the United States Treasury and officials of the Italian Government, once the fact has been established that bounties or grants within the meaning of the statute are being paid in a foreign country on the production or exportation of articles dutiable in the United States, the executive branch of this Government has no alternative but to apply the countervailing duties as prescribed by the law. Such duties are imposed in accordance with the terms of a mandatory law, they are not imposed for the purpose of obtaining concessions on exports from the United States to foreign countries, and cannot be removed or modified in return for such concessions. There is no authority for administrative discretion to modify the requirements of law.

This Government hopes, therefore, that the Italian Government will find it possible to modify the practices which have occasioned the application of countervailing duties in such a way as to make it possible for this Government to remove them.

With regard to the problem of commercial relations, it has always been the desire of the United States that our trade relations with Italy should be placed on a satisfactory basis. This Government will give careful study to any proposals which the Government of Italy may care to submit with these ends in view, and on its part is prepared to make every effort to find a means of regulating the trade between the two countries which will be acceptable and advantageous to both countries. Of course, it goes without saying that the prospects for undertaking commercial negotiations depend upon the general political situation in Europe. Obviously such negotiations would be pointless if the outcome of the immediate crisis were such as to change the whole situation.