The Ambassador in Cuba (Norweb) to the Secretary of State

No. 1288

Sir: Supplementing previous correspondence regarding negotiations for the purchase of the 1946 Cuban sugar crop, I have the honor to enclose a copy and translation of the Cuban Government’s note C–275 of March 14, 1946,28 in reply to our Government’s note of January 4, 1946, a copy of which was received by the Embassy under cover of the Department’s secret instruction no. 390 of the same date (file no. 837.61351/1–246).29

The Cuban note, after summarizing the contents of our note and referring to the exchange of notes annexed to the Supplementary Trade Agreement signed on December 23, 1941,30 reviews Cuba’s aspirations in respect of the future position of Cuban sugar in the United States market. It again calls attention to the large percentage of our sugar requirements which Cuba supplied during the war years and claims that it is a matter of vital interest to Cuba that its participation in our wartime sugar market be taken into consideration in any extension of the Sugar Act. It argues that it is essential to Cuba and in keeping with the spirit of the Reciprocal Trade Agreement31 that Cuba in future receive for its sugar a price proportionate to that paid our own producers and especially that paid producers in our insular possessions whose position, the note claims, is similar to that of Cuba.

The note further contends that the tariff preference which Cuban sugar enjoys in the United States does not constitute a trade barrier and should therefore be maintained, and expresses the Cuban Government’s concern over the fact that the value of that preference has already been substantially reduced as a result of our Trade Agreement [Page 776] with Peru32 and the operation of our unconditional most-favored-nation policy. This concern, it adds, has become especially grave in view of the bills now before our Congress which, if enacted, would grant duty exemptions or substantial duty reductions to the Philippines, once those islands have acquired the status of an independent nation, and claims that Cuba should receive the benefits of any tariff concessions thus granted the Philippines, plus the tariff preferences to which it is entitled under the Trade Agreement.

The gist of the Cuban Government’s note is contained in the penultimate paragraph, which states that in view of what is expressed in our note of January 4, the Cuban Government has decided to renew the negotiations for the sale of 1946 Cuban sugar, alcohol and molasses in the hope that the Executive Branch of the United States Government will support Cuba’s future position as a supplier of sugar to the United States market within the principles set forth in the Cuban note which, it considers, afford a reasonable basis for the just and equitable treatment to which Cuba considers itself entitled.

The Embassy believes that the Department will find the Cuban note satisfactory, inasmuch as it appears to be merely a restatement of Cuba’s position and of its arguments in favor of an increased participation in our sugar market without, however, making the successful conclusion of the forthcoming negotiations contingent on the prior receipt from us of any guarantees that it will receive such an increased participation. The Cubans have presumably realized that it is useless to insist on such guarantees at this time and that if it is possible to obtain them at all only Congress can grant them.

The Cuban commission, as mentioned in my telegram no. 202 of March 13, 6 p.m.,33 will therefore expectedly concentrate on an attempt to obtain some substantial concession for Cuban alcohol and additional assistance in connection with Cuba’s requirements of imported foodstuffs, notably rice, flour, lard and vegetable oils. It will, I believe, not only endeavor to secure increased allocations of these and other basic food products, but also some assurances with regard to the prices thereof, and will strongly play up the fact that Cuba is selling us its sugar at 3.675 cents per pound as against prices ranging from 6.5 to 7.5 cents per pound for sugars sold to other countries.34 It will try to make it appear that the world market price is actually somewhere around the latter figure and that therefore the sale to us represents a great financial sacrifice to Cuban producers.

Dr. Seiglie, the head of the Cuban commission, will, it is expected, leave for the United States on Monday, March 18, and Dr. Mañas intends [Page 777] to leave on the following day. No indication has been received as yet as to when the other members of the commission will leave, but it is assumed that they will all get away some time next week.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Albert F. Nufer

Counselor of Embassy for Economic Affairs
  1. Not printed.
  2. See footnote 20, p. 772.
  3. For documentation on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. vii, pp. 196 ff.
  4. For text of reciprocal trade agreement between the United States and Cuba, signed August 24, 1934, see Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. v, p. 169.
  5. Signed May 7, 1942; for documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. vi, pp. 674 ff.
  6. Not printed.
  7. These countries included Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Panama.