394.31/12–1751: Telegram

The Chargé in Belgium (Millard) to the Secretary of State


832. Re Deptins Nr. 52, Dec 4. First mtg for detailed consultation on item 1520 withdrawal held today with Le Ghait, Cassiers, Arents, Gerard Jr.1 Their comments as fols:

Extraordinary discrepancy between 1951 statistics for eight months on page 28 of Tariff Comm report and seven month summary of published Census Bureau figures.2 Imports from Belg $439,000 in former and dols $77,000 in latter. Explanation urgently required to support conclusions on rising trend of imports.
Le Ghait considers withdrawal unfortunate precedent for GATT, particularly in view of relation between volume of imports and volume of domestic production and close connection of commodity involved with felt hat bodies which were subj of previous art 19 withdrawal.
Cassiers says indispensable element in art 19 action is unforeseen circumstance and neither sharp increase in imports or revolutionary change in public habits of dress cld qualify as unforeseen development. Cassiers argues increased proportion of imports does not in itself substantiate either injury to industry or unforeseen development. Dept’s urgent advice on this condition of primary importance to convince Belgs circumstances qualify for action under art 19.
Cassiers says regrettable precedent but not contrary to GATT for proposed ceiling to be higher than existing duty at time of first GATT concession. He considers it essential however for withdrawal to be conditioned on duration of danger to industry. If withdrawal is made without providing for periodic review and reinstatement of concession as soon as possible, US will be in position of having permanently established the higher duty and requiring reciprocal negots to reduce it. This reasoning leads to conclusion US action shld be temporary conditional suspension of concession rather than withdrawal.
Cassiers wld appreciate having latest available monthly domestic production figures to show condition in industry since last June.
Question of compensation only brought up on most general terms. Belgs did not make any specific proposal and appreciate objectionable features of compensation as mentioned in ref instr.

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In view numerous holidays approaching, Emb wld appreciate most urgent reply giving info requested above and instrs indicated by Belg reaction.

  1. Respectively, Edouard Le Ghait, Belgian Foreign Ministry official with the rank of Minister Plenipotentiary; Georges Cassiers, Belgian Foreign Ministry official; Mr. Arents, formerly Secretary of Administration, Belgian Delegation to the Torquay Conference; O. M. Gerard, Jr., Attaché, Belgian Foreign Ministry (the senior Gerard was Deputy Director General of Foreign Trade, Belgian Foreign Ministry).
  2. This information constituted enclosures to the Department’s instruction under reference, not printed.