394.31/1–252: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Belgium 1


957. Re Brussels Ecato 641 rptd Paris Torep 9266, Brussels Toeca 599.2 This is a Joint State–MSA cable.

A. Have consulted with Harriman and Gordon on timing and content proposed Belg note on dol restrictions. All now agreed note shld be delivered immed.3

B. As result of suggestions developed with Gordon and comments urtel, note has been amended certain respects.

C. Accordingly, request you deliver note immed as fols:

  • “(1) Reps of US have, on various occasions, expressed concern this Govt with respect import restrictions recently imposed by Belg Govt against goods from US and other hard currency countries. In view continued application these restrictions, US wishes once more present its views concerning maintenance these restrictions and urge their prompt removal.
  • (2) US has carefully and sympathetically studied Belg justification for these restrictions. US recognizes seriousness Belg intra-Eur surplus problem and importance achieving early and satisfactory solution to problem. However, US believes dol import restrictions will not make any significant contribution toward solving problem and, if anything, are likely increase some of Belg’s present economic difficulties.
  • (3) In the view of US, the Belg action in applying discriminatory import restrictions under these circumstances is inconsistent with Belg’s obligations under GATT and a contravention of principles of Articles of Agreement of IMF. The abandonment of principle of permitting import restrictions only when justified on B/P grounds [Page 1522]cld lead to reversal of successful efforts already made toward reducing barriers to trade. This case may well serve as precedent for application by other countries of import restrictions for reasons other than B/P difficulties, possibly to direct detriment of Belg herself.
  • (4) The Belg action cld also have implications for US commercial policy. The US Govt has sought, through lowering of tariffs and other measures, reduce its barriers to goods from abroad and enable foreign countries to earn dols they need. While there have been departures from this objective, by and large these efforts have been successful and Amer market has been kept open and enlarged for foreign goods. These successes have been achieved in face of extensive domestic criticism of the widespread application of restrictions against Amer goods. This criticism can be met when restrictions can be shown to be needed on B/P grounds. It cannot be met when restrictions not needed for this purpose and appear inconsistent with intl commitments. In such circumstances the continuation of liberal import policy by US becomes increasingly difficult, if not jeopardized.
  • (5) US believes these undesirable consequences can and shld be avoided by prompt removal discriminatory import restrictions. Accordingly, before proceeding further in accordance with relevant provisions of IMF and GATT, US wishes present again to Belg Govt considerations bearing on matter. In light these considerations, it hopes Belg Govt will reexamine its position and will agree that restrictions shld be removed.
  • (6) Early statement of Belg Govt’s position wld be appreciated.”

  1. Repeated for information to Paris as 378 and Ottawa as 166.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The Embassy delivered the note to the Belgian Foreign Ministry on January 4, 1952 (Brussels telegram 897, January 4, 1952, 7 p. m., 394.31/1–452).