394.31/1–2751: Telegram

The Acting Chairman of the United States Delegation to the Torquay Conference (Corse) to the Secretary of State


375. French again holding up solution article XXVIII through prolonged delay in replying to our counter-proposal January 16 following tentative French proposal January 15. (Since early December we have in each instance made replies or counter-proposals within 24 hours after receipt French proposals.)1 French hope disagreement between Ministries of Industry and Agriculture on question reductions in withdrawal list will be arbitrated by Pleven2 before he leaves today for Washington; they said last night that even if his decision obtained, implementation thereof will require at least three or four days more and therefore we should not expect their detailed reply until middle next week. This may be deliberate in order withhold reply until after Pleven has finished his Washington talks. USDel suggests Department give consideration to impressing on Pleven in Washington talks that another inadequate French proposal following these repeated French delays would make negotiation new agreement extremely difficult if not impossible within time period remaining Torquay negotiations. We have most strongly urged French to give their reply this weekend. [Page 1269] Should they do so we shall advise Department immediately; also if possible whether reply appears acceptable.

Sent Department 375, repeated information Paris 28 for Ambassador and ECA.

  1. In his later Report to the Secretary of State on the Torquay negotiations, the Acting Chairman of the United States Delegation (Corse) said of the negotiations with France:

    • “Our negotiations with France at Torquay along with the British and Cuban negotiations, were probably the most difficult. This was true of both the Article XXVIII negotiations as well as those for the exchange of new concessions. . . .
    • “The discussions were characterized throughout on the part of the French by (1) an apparent deliberate procrastination, (2) a strong policy of protectionism, and (3) particular fear of German competition, especially in machine tools, Diesel tractors and equipment for handling goods. . . .
    • “The French originally proposed to increase the rates of duty on withdrawal items in much greater degree than they proposed to reduce duties on the items in the compensation list. In the course of the negotiations [i.e., on Article XXVIII matters], the French proposed using the calculated difference in the duty collected on imports from the United States under the existing rates of duty and the proposed rates of duty as a technique for measuring statistically the qualitative value of the proposed withdrawals and compensations. The French referred to this difference as perceptions. With the understanding that this method would not accurately reflect in all instances the worth of proposed duty charges, this technique was used as a general guide in discussions with the French.” (Report of the Acting Chairman of the United States Delegation to the Tariff Negotiations Conference held at Torquay, England, September 28, 1950 to April 21, 1951, to the Secretary of State, no date, Lot 57 D 284, Box 139)

    A running summary account of the Article XXVIII negotiations with France during the period indicated is included in the following Weekly Reports of the Delegation to the Department of State: No. 12 (pt. 2), January 16; No. 13 (pt. 2), January 23; No. 14 (pt. 2), January 29; No. 15 (pt. 2), February 6; No. 16 pt. 2), February 13; and No. 17, February 20. (394.31) The various proposals and counterproposals are described therein.

  2. René Jean Pleven, French Prime Minister.