January 10, 1925, will mark an important date in the history of the treaty of Versailles and a significant epoch in the International relations of post-war Europe. On that date several prominent economic clauses written into the treaty in 1919 will expire, and Germany will be freed from a number of obligations imposed upon her as a result of her defeat in the war.
For several months past, in fact ever since the days of the London Conference last summer, negotiations have been in progress between Germany on one hand, and Great Britain and France on the other, looking toward arrangements that would take the place of those which automatically lapse with the expiration of the Versailles clauses. These arrangements have to do with the commercial treaty relations between Germany and the former allied powers. Some of the negotiations have now been completed; others are still in progress. They all have to do with the commercial, and therefore basic economic, policies of Europe In the near future.
The Expiring Clauses
The clauses of the Versailles treaty which are about to expire are contained in Chapter I and in articles 271–2 of Chapter II, Section I of the Economic Clauses. They provide, in substance, for a unilateral most-favored-nation treatment for the Allied and Associated powers on the part of Germany, for a period of five years from the corning into force of the treaty. There Is a special provision regarding Alsace and Lorraine in paragraph (a) of article 268, which reads as follows:
For a period of five years from the coming into force of the present treaty., natural or manufactured products which both originate in and come from the territories of Alsace and Lorraine reunited to France, shall, on importation into German customs territory, be exempt from a11 customs duty. The French government shall fix each year, by decree communicated to the German government, the nature and the amount of the products, which shall enjoy this exemption. The amount of each product which may thus be sent annually into Germany shall not exceed the average of the amounts sent annually in the years 1911–13. Further, during the period above mentioned, the German government shall allow the free export from Germany and the free re-importation into Germany, exempt from all customs duties end other charges (including internal charges), of yarns, tissues, and other textile materials or textile products of any kind and in any condition, sent from Germany into the territories of Alsace and Lorraine, to be subjected there to any finishing process, such as bleaching, dyeing, printing, merceri-zation, gassing, twisting, or dressing.
Under the operation of these clauses, the trade of the Allied