394.31/3–251: Telegram

The Acting Chairman of the United States Delegation to the Torquay Conference (Corse) to the Secretary of State 1


493. The US and French reached agreement in principle on February 6 re French Article 28 proposals and formally concluded these negotiations February 28. On February 6 offers were exchanged initiating new bilateral negotiations. On February 7 French were informed their offers did not constitute basis for negotiation. French noted in reply that, in US offers, (1) interesting offer had been made on lace, (2) no concession offered on gloves and (3) number concessions offered items not included French request list and indicated wish US withdraw [Page 1271] some offers in latter category as step in achieving balance. French indicated would be difficult make additional customs duties on items included previous negotiations and suggested US examine its request list with view making request additional items. US gave French supplementary request list February 19.

On February 28 French gave negotiating team partial list of offers and stated they expected give complete list about March 8. French stated however that complete list would include very few additional items; these would be taken almost exclusively from supplementary request list and would probably be almost exclusively confined some chemical items. On basis French imports 1950, French are making direct offers on only $1,885,000 or on only .5 percent total French imports from US and 3 percent US requests, as compared US direct offer (US imports 1949 upon $13,225,000 or 21 percent imports from France and 70 percent French requests. Moreover, 43 percent French offers consist duty-free banding one item and with very few exceptions French reductions in duty offered small.

In accordance with unanimous decision TAC negotiation team informing FrDel March 3 that unless French Government prepared offer concessions far greater in scope and quality than it has indicated is prepared make, would appear impossible for US and French conclude agreement at Torquay; in addition, TAC unanimously believed would be highly desirable discuss matter at high level with French Government. This decision taken because (1) psychological desirability as negotiating tactic gave French immediate reaction their proposal and (2) view of short time remaining before close conference, necessary give French as clear idea as possible of type agreement US would accept. Noted this connection that in order achieve balance with present French offers (including those expected next week) would be necessary withdraw all but small part US offers.

USDel believes highly desirable that Washington and Embassy Paris recall immediately to French, despite fall Pleven Cabinet, assurance given by Pleven to President that protectionist policy would be changed and French would proceed tariff reductions Torquay (urtel 398, February 20) and reiterate concern of US Government that no such changes evident Torquay, at effect protectionist policy would have in reducing productivity French economy and detrimental effect on public opinion US and Europe if substantial agreement should not be concluded between US and French at Torquay. There is evidence French Government agencies are misleading their high level officials re protectionist policy being pursued Torquay.

USDel believes implementation French Government’s assurance given by Pleven can be effected only if efforts Torquay conplemented by very strong representation high level view many indications [Page 1272] French Government agencies following wishes French pressure groups.

Sent Department 493, repeated information Paris 51, for Embassy and OSR.

  1. The developments described here with respect to the United States-French negotiations for new concessions are described in some detail in the Delegation’s Weekly Reports to the Department of State as follows: No. 10 (pt.. 2), February 13; No. 17, February 20; No. 18 (pt. 2), February 27; and No. 19 (pt. 2), March 6. (394.31)