Dr. Karel Svec of the Delegation of Czechoslovakia to the GATT Torquay Conferences to the Vice Chairman of the United States Delegation (Corse)

No. 170/50

Dear Mr. Corse: With reference to our first meeting of November 20th, 1950 concerning the U.S.A. application of Article XIX on women’s felt hats, I have the honour to inform you that after having carefully studied the United States Tariff Commission’s Report to the President and after having examined all additional circumstances I fully maintain the opinion expressed by the Leader of my Delegation [Page 1534] in the Plenary Session of the Contracting Parties, namely, that in this given case the conditions required for the application of Article XIX have not been fulfilled and even less so for its application as from December 1st, 1950.1

However, I am of the opinion that the aim of a consultation is not that the parties concerned should convene in order to insist rigidly on the views expressed but that they should try to reach an agreement or at least a solution acceptable to both parts [parties?]. I am therefore transmitting to you a Table showing the effect of the withdrawal of the Geneva concessions on the Czechoslovak export to the United States.2 As I have only used data I had at my disposal here in Torquay they might be subject to minor corrections.

You will no doubt agree—after having examined this Table—that the increased customs duties are prohibitive and they would tend to paralyse the export from Czechoslovakia to the USA of an article which has been traditionally exported to the United States long before the Second World War. The importance of this for both parties seems to be underlined even more by the fact that according to the findings in your Report the yearly import of this article from Czechoslovakia—mainly in value brackets shown in the Table—amounted to almost 1 million US Dollars which is to say that it is one of the most important items in the trade between our two countries.

It further appears from the Table that the increased duties will affect mostly the export of hats in value brackets between US$9–18. We would therefore appreciate if at least the concessions granted for these value brackets could remain untouched.

With regard to the fact that the United States have decided to introduce these prohibitive duties as from December 1st, 1950 as well as having in mind that the Fifth Session of the Contracting Parties is to come to close within the next 2–3 weeks, by which date final solution [Page 1535] should be reached, I should greatly appreciate your early reply as to whether the United States would agree to our proposition mentioned above, i.e. not to withdraw Geneva concessions with regard to felt hats in value brackets between $9–18 or whether the USA Delegation has its own proposition of a compromise solution.

Yours sincerely,

Karel Svec
  1. The events herein described took place within the framework of the Fifth Session of the Contracting Parties of GATT which convened at Torquay on November 2. The U.S. notice of withdrawal of concessions regarding fur felt hats and hat bodies was circulated in Doc. GATT/CP/83, at which time the United States on the basis of GATT procedures “invited” interested and/or affected parties to “consult” with the U.S. Delegation regarding the proposed U.S. action. In response, the Delegation of Czechoslovakia had circulated a statement complaining that the U.S. withdrawal of the concession on felt hats was not justifiable under Article XIX of GATT and that the United States had not supplied adequate data regarding domestic and import trade on this item. Accordingly, the U.S. Delegation agreed to the inclusion of the Czech complaint on the agenda of the Fifth Session. An initial meeting or “consultation” on this matter took place between members of the U.S. and Czech Delegations on November 20, 1950.

    The files of the U.S. Delegation to the Fifth Session of the Contracting Parties of GATT are located in International Trade Files, Lot 57 D 284, Boxes 111 and 112. A guide to the documentation of the Fifth Session is in Doc. GATT/CP/INF/6, January 10, 1951, “List of Documents Issued from 3 August 1950 to 20 December 1950” (Lot 57 D 284, Box 111, “5th Sess & 3d TN’s”). There is a master telegram file (amalgamated) of the two U.S. Delegations to the two GATT Torquay Conferences in Lot 57 D 284, Box 139.

  2. Attachment with cited table not printed.