837.2351/3–1351: Airgram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Dominican Republic 1


A–120. Reference is made to the Embassy’s despatch 579 of March 132 regarding Cuban discussions with the British Government concerning an increased market for Cuban sugar in Great Britain in connection with possible tariff concessions by Cuba to Great Britain which would have the effect of reducing or eliminating tariff preferences now being granted by Cuba to corresponding imports from the United States.

This Government’s understanding with the Cuban Government, with regard to Cuba’s desire to offer concessions to European countries involving reductions in certain United States preference margins in return for compensating concessions from those countries on Cuban products, is set forth in the confidential aide-mémoire of June 27, 1950 entitled “Results of Discussions between the Delegations of Cuba and the United States”,3 which was prepared at the conclusion of discussions held in Washington May 23 to June 27, 1950 between representatives [Page 1338] of the Governments of Cuba and the United States. It is believed a copy of this aide-memoire was sent to the Embassy for its information and files.

It should be mentioned that neither in the aide-mémoire, nor in any negotiations between Cuba and European countries of which the Department is aware, was it contemplated that tariff preferences would be accorded products of European countries by Cuba. Such action would be clearly contrary to GATT. Rather, the aide-memoire and the negotiations envisaged a reduction or elimination of preferences now accorded imports into Cuba from the United States in respect of products of which European countries are, or are likely to become, important suppliers of the Cuban market. It was understood (numbered point 4 on page 9 of the aide-memoire) that Cuba and the United States would continue to consult with each other in the event that either proposed to reduce or eliminate existing margins of preference. In accordance with this understanding, the Cuban Government informed this Government of offers it proposed to make to European countries which would have the effect of eliminating or reducing the United States preference on the products involved and obtained the United States views in each instance.

With respect to the possibility mentioned in the Embassy’s despatch that in return for tariff concessions by Cuba to Great Britain, the latter country might grant Cuba a fixed sugar quota for the next 3 years in the British market, the Dominican and other Governments directly affected by any such British action would obviously have the most immediate and primary interest, and as such could be expected to take the initiative in discussing the matter with the British or taking it up under GATT. At the same time, it will be observed that in numbered paragraph 2 on page 5 of the United States-Cuban aide-mémoire, the United States set forth its understanding that in any Cuban negotiations with European countries, the approach would be kept consistent with GATT and the Habana ITO charter.4 For your own confidential information only, it has very recently been reported to the Department by an adviser on sugar matters to the Cuba Torquay delegation that Cuba has not requested and does not intend to request the British Government for a fixed quota for Cuban sugar in the British market, but rather sought a British commitment not to reduce British purchases of sugar in the world market below 1,500,000 tons during a 3 year period.

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The Department has sent copies of your despatch 579 to the United States delegation at Torquay and the Embassy at Habana, and has forwarded to you and the Embassy at Habana copies of a memorandum of conversation of March 15 between a member of our delegation at Torquay and Ambassador J. M. Troncoso, the head of the Dominican delegation, on this subject.

  1. Drafted by Mr. Charles C. Hauch of the Office of Middle American Affairs.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed (411.37/6–2850).
  4. Reference is to the Charter for the International Trade Organization (ITO) signed at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment held at Habana, Cuba, November 7, 1947-March 24, 1948; for documentation on the formulation of the Charter, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. i, Part 2, pp. 802 ff. For text of the Charter, see United Nations Doc. ICITO/1/4 (a document of the Interim Committee of the International Trade Organization established by the Final Act of the Habana Conference), or Department of State Publication 3117 (Commercial Policy Series 113), Havana Charter for an International Trade Organization and Related Documents (Washington, 1948).
  5. Not printed.