No. 600.

Mr. Bayard to Mr. Magee .

No. 8.]

Sir: I transmit herewith for your information copy of a semi-official note and memorandum sent to me by the Swedish minister on the 17th ultimo.* claiming for Sweden and Norway, under the favored-nation clause of the existing treaty of 1827 with the United States, the reductions and exemptions which section 14 of the shipping act, approved June 26, 1884, gives in the matter of tonnage tax and analogous dues to vessels entering the ports of the United States when coming from ports within a defined geographical zone.

A reply to the Swedish minister is still under advisement. The importance of the claim calls for careful consideration. The intention of the act appears to have been to foster relations of intimate good neighborliness with the commercial district in our immediate vicinity. If Sweden and Norway possessed colonies within that district, it is hardly presumable that the benefits accruing to the trade with those colonies would be claimed for the mother country also. There are, however, no Swedish possessions coming within the provisions of the shipping act.

It is also to be observed that the act creates no national favor dependent on the flag of the vessels to which it applies. A Swedish ship coming from a port in the defined zone is treated the same as an American ship coming thence. It is quite apparent that considerations of propinquity may lead to, and indeed demand, special relationships between neighboring states which from their nature are not susceptible of extension to distant regions where such considerations may not exist, and that even an equivalence of reciprocal favor, quam proxime, however desirable, may be found impracticable. The special conditions may be deemed in some sort analagous to those on which colonial dependence rests, and as to these Sweden holds that the favored-nation treatment cannot apply. (See article 6 of the treaty of 1827.)

It may aid to an examination of this interesting and comprehensive [Page 787] question to receive from you a statement of the manner in which the favored-nation clause in other foreign treaties of Sweden and Norway has been construed in case of contention touching reserved privileges.

You will not, however, discuss the question at present with the Swedish minister for foreign affairs.

I am, &c.,

  1. For inclosure see document No. 604, p. 789.