662.003/14: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Wallace ) to the Acting Secretary of State

778. R–445 for Davis.9

Belgian, French and Italian delegates have addressed note dated March 16 to Conference Ambassadors reciting that these Government[s] are engaged in conversations with German Government concerning prohibitions respecting imports and exports from Germany in order to ascertain whether it will be possible for them to adhere to provisional agreement whereby Germany authorized to place her custom duties on gold basis, see my R–38410 and Embassy’s 614.
Note complains that contrary to Articles 265 to 267 inclusive, German decrees of November 27 and December 24, 1919 vested authority exportation or importation in Commiss[ioner of the] Reich or Bureau of External Commerce which not only varies price merchandise exported different countries according to country but frequently changes price during course of exportation.
Note admits Germany has right fix prices merchandise exported at higher figure than for home consumption. Also admits Germany may forbid either exportation or importation any products or merchandise and that products forbidden exportation can be used for exchange (on barter principle) [only] with special authority Allied and Associated Powers. Note contends prohibition against import or export must be absolute and prices fixed must be equal for every one and must be published in advance and not be retroactive nor permit “intrusion of authority German[y] into a contract freely entered into”. This last phrase is literal translation of French and apparently means that price fixed for exportation though higher than for home consumption not binding upon German exporters if they choose accept lower figure.
Note concludes with request from governments named to ambassadors to direct attention German Government to principles set forth in note which arise from conditions of treaty and which constitute base [basis] on which their negotiations are being made.
  1. Norman H. Davis, Assistant Secretary, U. S. Treasury, from Nov. 1919 to June 1920.
  2. Not printed.