Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Truman

Subject: Secretary Anderson’s Proposals with Respect to H. R. 4676, the Philippine Trade Bill

I refer to your memorandum of January 10, 194615 and to the attached copy of Secretary Anderson’s letter of January 7, which deals with (1) the problem of reconciling, particularly in the case of sugar, the differences in our proposed treatment of Cuba and of the Philippines with respect to tariff preferences, (2) the difficulties which this proposed difference of treatment has caused in the negotiations for the purchase of Cuban sugar, and (3) the question of the size of the Philippine and Cuban sugar quotas.

As a solution to these problems, the Secretary of Agriculture has recommended that:

duties on our sugar imports within quotas established by sugar legislation or international agreement with respect to sugar might be entirely eliminated, and that
no commitments be made in H. R. 4676 which would have the effect of tying the hands of this Government with respect to import quota arrangements on sugar which may be developed in the future in connection with domestic sugar legislation or international agreements.

[Page 869]

With respect to the first recommendation of the Department of Agriculture, this Department believes that it would be undesirable to propose, in connection with the Philippine Trade Bill, the elimination of all sugar duties. The Department believes that such a proposal would introduce a controversial political issue of concern not only to the Philippines and Cuba but to all producers of sugar, domestic as well as foreign, and that enactment of the Philippine Trade Bill might be further delayed and Philippine rehabilitation retarded. The Department believes that the question of sugar duties should be deferred until general sugar legislation is considered in connection with the Sugar Act which expires at the end of this year. This Department would appreciate an opportunity to comment on any such legislation because of its important bearing on our foreign economic relations.

Secretary Anderson’s second proposal is consistent with the position that this Department has already taken with respect to quota arrangements on sugar in H. R. 4676. On December 11 I wrote to Mr. Robertson,16 then Acting Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, that in the opinion of this Dept the changing of the absolute quotas provided in H. R. 4676 to tariff quotas, as had been suggested by this Department, would not preclude the inclusion of Philippine sugar in any future revision or extension of the Sugar Act of 1937. I added, moreover, that if there should be any doubt as to this a proviso might be added to section 4 of the bill stipulating that “nothing in this section shall affect any existing or future legislation or international agreement imposing quantitative restrictions upon the importation of sugar into the United States”.

James F. Byrnes
  1. See footnote 2, p. 861.
  2. A. Willis Robertson, of Virginia, House of Representatives.