University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Foreign Relations of the United States

Page View

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

Switzerland,   pp. 565-582 PDF (6.6 MB)

Page 578

portant question to a general vote, all the more so at this time when
financial and economic questions were so complex and difficult. He
could, however, assure me that the tax would not be increased. Fur-
thermore, he said, except for the Netherlands, the import duties of
Switzerland were the lowest in Europe; their average amounted to
about six percent. With the tax included, this meant an average duty
of 6.24 percent. Thus, in itself the tax could not, he claimed, be con-
sidered as constituting a barrier to trade; neither had there been any
such desire or intimation when it had been enacted by Parliament.
  Subsequently, when on -December 17 he handed me his answer to
my note of October 12 with regard to the treatment of American
automobiles shipped on consignment, under bond, to dealers in Switz-
erland (please see my despatch No. 153 of December 21, 1937), Dr.
Hotz referred to our previous conversation with respect to the four
percent tax on customs receipts and recalled the particular circum-
stances under which the tax had been enacted. It had, he said, been
included in the financial program for 1936 which should have been
passed by Parliament during December 1935; that this was, and is,
the regular procedure; that by reason of some delay at the last moment,
which the newly elected Federal Councillor Meyer hesitated forcefully
to overcome, the bill had been carried over into the January session
of the Parliament and had been enacted in its original form subse-
quent to the signature of our commercial agreement; that this sequence
of events had been most unfortunate and regrettable, and that he
hoped that the Department would understand the very difficult sit-
uation in which they were placed. I had the impression that Dr. Hotz
had probably discussed the matter with Dr. Stucki, who has recently
returned to Bern, and that he was, in fact, begging us not to press the
matter and thus spare the Government considerable embarrassment.
  In view of all the circumstances of this case, as well as the fact that
there appear to have been no protests recently against the tax in
question by American importing interests, and particularly in view
of the extremely receptive and cooperative attitude of Dr. Hotz and
the Commercial Division of the Federal Department of Public Econ-
omy in general, I would respectfully recommend that the matter be
not pressed and that for the time being we await developments.
  Respectfully yours,                          LELAND HARRISON
  The Secretary of State to the Minidter in Switzerland (HIarriMon)
No. 172                           WASHINGTON, January 31, 1938.
  SIR: Reference is made to the Legation's despatch No. 155 of Decem-
ber 21, 1937, with regard to the four percent tax levied by the Swiss
Government on customs receipts.

Go up to Top of Page