394.31/1–1653: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Dunn) to the Department of State1


3986. Re Deptel 3852.2 Substance reference telegram conveyed orally to Brunet3 (Foreign Office) with whom brief written summary left to facilitate further consideration of Department’s views in Foreign Office policy conference this subject immediately following Embassy officer’s visit. Brunet indicated Foreign Office position unchanged from that reported Embassy telegram 3547, December 18.4 He said prime concern of French was with threat of increasing Japanese competition in overseas territories and particularly in Associated States. With latter French still negotiating on tariff policies and other bilateral trade matters. Brunet acknowledged while some uncertainty prevailed, it was likely ultimately Associated States would be accorded full autonomy in tariff policies and seek entry into GATT. In that event he thought it inevitable Associated States would themselves desire tariff negotiations with Japan because of natural and historical complementary commodity trade. In interim however French exporters desire as long as possible retain their privileged positions in Associated States market—a circumstance probably accounting for slow pace at which negotiations proceeding. Brunet also made reference to recent statements by Japan foreign trade authorities indicating their intention to intensify export drives including sales in North Africa which prewar were of significance.

As to direct Japanese-French trade, Brunet said French exports had never been of any importance having been under two and half billion francs in 1951. Japanese exports to France, primarily of raw materials, traditionally ran eight to nine times this volume. Hence French do not anticipate any tariff concessions by Japan would offer benefits to French exporters commensurate with reciprocal benefits to Japanese traders. Brunet referred to inertia French exporters [Page 130] and their propensity to confine sales promotion efforts to neighboring western European countries.

Brunet said Foreign Office decision likely to be to abstain in vote on Japanese accession to GATT. It is not presently contemplating suggesting any conditions for Japanese membership in intersessional committee meeting inasmuch as it can not conceive any conditions within GATT framework which would eliminate basic French concern as outlined above. Thus on labor practices, Brunet expressed view Indian conditions probably inferior to those of Japan. No thought has been given evaluation of Japanese trade practices. He anticipates despite French abstinence necessary majority will be found in GATT to make Japanese accession possible in event of which present French view is France would rely on article 35 and refrain from entering into negotiations with Japan.

Embassy officers pointed to possible unfortunate political and economic consequences this negative French position. They remarked that French abstention without accompanying stipulation of any conditions under which France might endorse Japanese accession would seem to accord Japan no criteria for guidance as to modifications in her economic and trade policy, fulfillment of which would permit her to enter western community of nations and be treated on basis of equality. On contrary such negative position would appear to imply that under no circumstances could France ever envisage Japan as an acceptable trading partner. Such implication might well have adverse effect on political relations between two countries and prejudice such economic and financial negotiations including Japanese debts as are now going on. Moreover to treat Japan as pariah excluding her in principle from equality of opportunity to trade in western world would seem likely to complicate prospects for continued Japanese adherence to COCOM5 which France had long sought. To take position in COCOM urging Japan to refrain from trade with Soviet bloc and simultaneously in GATT to preclude expansion opportunities for trade elsewhere appeared inconsistent and possibly self-destroying set of policies.

Brunet professed to be impressed with Embassy officer’s comments and offered to discuss French position again after this morning’s Foreign Office policy meeting. Brunet noted complicating [Page 131] factor in formulation of French position is assurance which Maurice Schumann gave to Assembly March 28, 1952 during course of debate on Japanese peace treaty: “If problem comes up, we shall take same attitude as Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries, who are hostile, for very evident reasons, to entry of Japan into GATT.”

  1. Repeated for information to Tokyo, Saigon, Geneva, and London.
  2. Supra.
  3. Jean Pierre Brunet, Director of Economic and Financial Affairs, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  4. Telegram 3547 from Paris reported that a French Foreign Ministry spokesman had informed the Embassy that the prospect of Japanese competition in French overseas territories appeared too dangerous to the French export trade to permit the French Government to extend trade concessions to Japan under GATT. (394.31/12—1852)
  5. The Coordinating Committee (COCOM) was established in November 1949 to oversee the day-to-day task of applying free world trade controls to the European Soviet bloc; the China Committee (CHINCOM) concentrated on controlling shipments to Asian Communist nations. Both were subordinate to the Consultative Group, a 15-nation body including the United States, Canada, Turkey, Japan, and Western Europe, which had the overall responsibility of coordinating the strategic trade controls of its members and provided a forum for discussions and negotiations relating to economic defense. For documentation on the strategic trade control program for this period, see pp. 817 ff.