The Second Secretary of Embassy in the Netherlands (Donovan) to the Secretary of State


No. 1091

Ref: Dept. Instruction No. 55, December 5, 19511

Subject: Dutch Reaction to Tariff Commission Report on Concession on Hatters’ Fur.

Mr. H. van Blankenstein, a Director of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in charge of Dutch tariff negotiations, has told the reporting officer that the whole set of provisions of the Trade Agreements Extension Act under which the United States could withdraw concessions was regarded by his Government as greatly weakening the faith which [Page 1552] foreign governments could put in the word of the United States Government. A foreign government which traded tariff concessions with the United States could never be sure that the United States would keep its side of the bargain, though the United States itself was always most energetic in insisting that other countries live up to their sides of bargains with the United States.

Mr. van Blankenstein made these observations during discussions concerning the United States Tariff Commission’s report on the concession on hatters’ furs. He said that the Netherlands Government particularly did not understand why it was so imperative that the consultations on the withdrawals must be completed within a 60-day period. He pointed out that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade did not require that such consultations be completed within any such short period of time. This 60-day period was especially inadequate in the present case, he said, because by the time the Netherlands Government received the Tariff Commission’s report, more than thirty days of the 60-day period had already elapsed.

The Tariff Commission report was dated November 9, 1951. The telegram from the Department asking the Embassy to notify the Netherlands authorities was dated November 27. The Embassy note for this instruction was delivered on November 28. The Department’s instruction forwarding the full report was dated December 5 and only reached The Hague in time to be delivered to the Dutch on December 11. This left only 28 days for the Netherlands Government (1) to make its own study of the statistics on the trade in the particular item, (2 )to consult with the other Benelux Governments regarding possible counter-proposals of the three governments, (3) to make statistical studies of the effect of possible retaliatory withdrawals of concessions granted the United States, and (4) to discuss all of these questions with United States representatives. In the present instance, the American procedure was even more objectionable, as the short period left for consultation fell directly in the middle of the holiday season.

Thomas A. Donovan
  1. Not printed; see footnote 1, p. 1549.