The United States and Cuba: Business and Diplomacy, 1917-1960

By Robert F. Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE

The Mail Order Trade, Cigars,
and the Struggle for the
Parcel Post Convention

I

Tobacco was the second major export product of Cuba, and the relationship between tobacco exports to the United States and American exports to Cuba provided the stage for another important controversy over policy. This controversy, however, was not based on the tariff. Instead, it was based on the Parcel Post Convention and sections 2804 and 3402 of the Revised Statutes of the United States. Cuba was primarily interested in the export of tobacco products such as cigars and cigarettes. The United States market for these goods consisted, for the most part, of dealers who ordered, in relatively small quantities, directly from Cuba. In addition, there were numerous American firms which shipped goods by mail to Cuba. In the absence of a parcel post agreement all of these goods had to be sent by first class mail, which was more expensive and subject to weight limitation. Thus, both American exporters and Cuban tobacco manufacturers were interested in the negotiation of a parcel post convention.

As early as 1920 the National Foreign Trade Council cited the great need for the establishment of a parcel post service between the United States and Cuba in order to "cement" the business relationships developed during the war. 1 The agitation for such an agreement continued to grow, 2 but Cuba refused to negotiate a parcel post convention with the United States. The

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