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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1937. The British Commonwealth, Europe, Near East and Africa

Belgium,   pp. 219-237 PDF (7.1 MB)

Page 233

  If the Department approves, I would propose to preface the pres-
entation of this memorandum with some general remarks as to the
importance attached by the American Government to our Trade
Agreement policy and our conviction that this policy can be ex-
pected to give its maximum benefits to all concerned only if loyally
and even generously interpreted and executed, that for this reason
the American Government is disturbed at the long series of com-
plaints which have been received from American interests as to ob-
vious violations of the terms and spirit of the Agreement. I would
add that we are thoroughly convinced of the desire and intention
of the Belgian Government loyally to interpret its obligations but
that in the course of months and in the light of previous experience
it has become evident that the violations which form the subject of
this memorandum are due to the action of subordinate officials who
would appear to be acting independently and against the declared
policy of the Belgian Government; that I have discussed this matter
previously with M. van Zeeland who took prompt and decided remedial
action with the result that the complaints subsided for a time, but
that since the recent Cabinet crisis the complaints have increased
in volume and I feel I cannot any longer delay bringing them to the
attention of the Minister for Foreign Affairs with the request that he
afford them his earnest study; in numerous previous cases the Em-
bassy has had occasion to appeal to the Foreign Office and that I am
glad to be able to say that the Foreign Office has always risen to
the occasion by using its best efforts to meet any just cause for com-
plaint from the Embassy; that the difficulty has arisen from the fact
that no means have been devised for obliging officials of other Govern-
ment Departments to conform to the wishes of the Minister for For-
eign Affairs even in matters affecting Belgian foreign policy and
that the only way I can see of putting an end to the present abuses
would be for the Foreign Minister to make a clear statement of the
present situation before the Belgian Cabinet and insist that orders
be given by his colleagues to their representatives on the Inter-Min-
.sterial Commission that in any matter affecting American trade
there shall be no action against the recommendations of the Foreign
Office representative unless and until the matter has been carried to
higher authority and a decision reached by responsible Ministers.
If we can keep these questions, some of them petty in themselves, out
of the hands of subordinate officials, I feel that the existing good
will is an adequate guarantee that we could put an end to the diffi-
culties which we have experienced.
  To supplement the foregoing and reinforce these general observa-
tions, I could then hand M. Spaak the memorandum and go over it
with him carefully. In order further to reinforce our representa-
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