The Chargé in Peru ( Acherman ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1593

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s telegram No. 203 of April 25, 1947, expressing our Government’s deep concern at the promulgation by Perú of a new tariff schedule involving import duty rates substantially higher than heretofore and to enclose a copy of the Embassy’s note No. 510 of May 6 on that subject to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.51

In order to add emphasis to our Government’s formal expressions in the premises the matter was promptly discussed informally and at length by the Commercial Attaché with Sr. Domingo Parra at the Customs Advisory Board and with the Minister of Finance, subsequent to which there was forwarded the Embassy’s telegram No. 340 of May 7 (per copy enclosed). Although agreeing as to the desirability of a temporary postponement of the application of the new duty schedule the Minister is of the emphatic opinion that it is highly essential for financial reasons that such delay be limited to a brief period only since national revenues needed to balance the current budget otherwise would be adversely affected.

The Minister’s attention was then invited to the omission in the new tariff of any mention of the preferential rates, specified in Schedule I of the trade agreement, to which American merchandise is entitled upon importation into Peru. It was recalled to the Minister that the Peruvian customs authorities had not always and uniformly applied minimum tariff rates in the absence of specific invocation of those benefits by the importer or his customs agent (see Embassy’s despatch No. 1098 of January 31, 1947, reporting settlement of this difficulty). The suggestion was accordingly offered that appropriate reference in [Page 1027] the new tariff to existing preferential rates, where applicable, would probably prove helpful in avoiding recurrences of similar difficulties as well as be of assistance to customs officials, local importers and the business public in general. The Minister requested that a written reminder be addressed to him in that connection and there is enclosed a copy of the Embassy’s letter of May 8 to the Minister on that subject.

In the meantime the Lima Chamber of Commerce also requested that the application of the new tariff be deferred (clipping attached) and there shortly thereafter appeared in the public press the text of an Executive Decree (clipping attached) fixing June 15 as the date when the new tariff will go into effect. This development was reported in the Embassy’s telegram No. 348 of May 10 (per copy enclosed), together with the substance of another conversation between the Commercial Attaché and the Minister of Finance upon occasion of the delivery of the Embassy’s above-mentioned communication dated May 8.

In an interview on May 8 with the Director of the Department of Foreign Trade of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sr. Vicente Cerro Cebrian, the Commercial Attaché again raised the question of the new tariff as being at variance with the objectives of the Geneva and subsequent general conference of the United Nations for the reduction or elimination of trade barriers of all types including tariff rates. The opportunity was not lost again to express the hope that the Peruvian Government would not take action which would serve to hinder the full participation by the Peruvian delegate in the proceedings of the general conference of United Nations on trade and employment scheduled to be held following the termination of the Geneva Conference. At his request Sr. Cerro was handed a Spanish translation of the “Suggested Charter for an International Trade Organization” (he had misplaced a similar copy previously furnished him by the Embassy) at which time the provisions of Chapter IV “General Commercial Policy” were brought to his attention. Although expressing a polite interest Sr. Cerro was obviously preoccupied with matters which he considered of more immediate urgency such as the prospective early exhaustion of Perú’s wheat supplies (see the Embassy’s telegram No. 346 of May 952 and despatch No. 1578 of May 1453 entitled “Emergency Wheat Shipment for Peruvian Government”) to which subject he reverted frequently with the fervent hope that our Government would effectively assist Peru in her hour of need.

A second conference was held on May 16 with officials of the Customs Advisory Board for the purpose of obtaining advance unofficial information as to which of the new tariff items—some of which have [Page 1028] been reworded and otherwise altered—are held by the Peruvians to correspond with the items specified in Schedule I of our trade agreement with Perú. Apparently as a result of the Embassy’s request of May 8 to the Minister of Finance (see enclosure No. 3) the Board was then engaged in compiling that information and there is enclosed an item-by-item comparison based on such data as are currently available from the Board.54 In order that our Government’s observations and objections, if any, may be made known to the Peruvian authorities prior to the issuance of official dispositions on the subject (probably to be made not later than June 15), the Department may wish to examine the comparisons and appropriately instruct the Embassy at its earliest convenience.

Respectfully yours,

For the Chargé d’Affaires a.i.
Thomas S. Campen

Commercial Attaché
  1. Enclosures to this despatch not printed.
  2. Post, p. 1036.
  3. Not printed.
  4. The Chargé in his despatch 1727, June 23, 1947, indicated the receipt of a note from the Peruvian Foreign Office, but it was not responsive to the concern of the Embassy at the prospective tariff increases nor to the request that Peru defer the application of the new rates (623.003/6–2347).