The Secretary of State to the Cuban Ambassador (Belt)51


As His Excellency, the Ambassador of Cuba, is aware, Cuba and the United States have had mutually beneficial results from the trade agreement between the two countries which has been in effect since September 3, 1934,52 and during this period of nearly twelve years comparatively few questions have arisen with regard to the operation of the agreement. However, during the past few years the American Embassy at Habana has discussed with the Cuban Government a number of instances in which Cuban laws or decrees contain provisions that are contrary to the provisions of certain articles of the trade agreement, and despite repeated requests by the Embassy for a settlement of these problems, the Cuban Government has taken no action to bring such conflicting provisions into conformity with the terms of the trade agreement.

The Government of the United States believes that the Cuban Government shares its desire to have all pending matters of this kind satisfactorily adjusted before negotiations are undertaken in anticipation of the proposed International Conference on Trade and Employment. [Page 740] It is requested, therefore, that the Ambassador of Cuba bring to the attention of his Government the strong hope of the United States Government that there may be definitive discussions at an early date between the Ministry of State and the American Embassy at Habana with a view to a settlement of all these outstanding questions.

There is given below a list of the pending trade-agreement matters.

Import Package Tax established by Cuban Civil Retirement Law of May 18, 1939, as amended by the Law of November 12, 1942.
Increases in the Export Tax on Money by Cuban Law no. 1 of December 31, 1941 and Law no. 7 of April 6, 1943.
Discrimination against imports in exemption of Cuban raw materials used by new industries from certain taxes under the provisions of Cuban decree no. 2144 of August 7, 1945.
Failure to extend to imports from the United States exemptions from consular invoice fees, custom duties, et cetera which Cuban Decree no. 2620 of September 17,1945 grants to books imported from Mexico.53
Discrimination against imports in suspension of tax on the refining of crude petroleum produced in Cuba. (The tax was established by Cuban Decree Law no. 14 of February 6, 1942.)
Discrimination against imports in 20-percent reduction in the gross sales tax in the case of Cuban goods and in exemption from tax for Cuban commercial samples in certain provisions of Cuban Decree no. 643 of March 27, 1946.

[The Department’s aide-mémoire of June 12, 1946, was acknowledged by Ambassador Belt in an aide-mémoire of August 13, not printed. The pending trade-agreement matters, he reported, were “opportunely brought to the attention of the Cuban Government, and are being submitted to special study and consideration by technical officials and experts of the Ministry of State and the Ministry of Finance.” (611.3731/8–1346)

Ambassador Norweb reported in despatch 2131, September 5, that he had transmitted a note to the Cuban Foreign Office requesting that steps be taken to remedy the apparent discrimination in favor of domestic products as regards the application of the consumption tax of 2 centavos per gallon on gasoline and gasoline substitutes of United States origin, which conflicts with provisions of article VIII of the Reciprocal Trade Agreement. Only a tentative reply had been received to the Embassy’s note of August 30 on this subject, and, further, no indication had been given by the Ministry of State as to its readiness to discuss settlement of trade agreement problems listed in this aide-mémoire of June 12. (611.3731/9–546)]

  1. Handed to the Cuban Ambassador on June 13.
  2. Signed at Washington, August 24, 1934; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. v, p. 169, Executive Agreement Series No. 67, or 49 Stat. (pt. 2) 3559.
  3. According to despatch 1916, July 22, 1946, from Havana, this fourth violation by Cuba of the Reciprocal Trade Agreement had since been eliminated (611.3731/7–2246).