Mr. Wallace to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Constantinople, January 24, 1885. (Received February 16.)
Sir: I have the honor to report that I transmitted a note requesting the minister of foreign affairs to inform me if 8 per cent, ad valorem was the tariff rate now levied upon goods imported from my country, and whether that was the rate imposed upon imports from other countries.
The inducement to send this note with its inquiries was a suspicion that a misapprehension of the tariff now in enforcement against our goods had grown out of the use in a recent dispatch of his excellency Tevfik Pasha of the words ad valorem, without a statement of the rate of duties levied.
Yesterday I called upon the minister of foreign affairs, and had a pleasant conversation with him upon the subject. He said the note had been referred for information, and that as soon as the necessary reports were at hand he would give me an answer. Speaking, then, of the matter generally, he said he understood that America was receiving exactly the same treatment in this respect as the other powers. “In fact,” he proceeded to say, “we have no power to do other than treat her commercially as a favored nation.”
The signification of the remark you will at once understand. I took it as a broad recognition of our claim under the treaty of 1830, and if the idea is that of the Sublime Porte, we certainly have no cause of corn-plaint on that score.
I asked him how the negotiation of the new tariffs was progressing. He replied substantially, “The tariffs with France, Germany, England, and Russia are nearly completed.”
“And what of the treaties?”
“We have not begun with them yet.”
“Is it the purpose of the Sublime Porte to make one and the same treaty with all the powers?” 1 asked him.
“Yes; one unique treaty with them all.”
“Then,”1 said, “the initiative lies upon the sublime Porte, Have [Page 830] you a treaty drafted to present to the powers? If so, I would be glad of a copy for immediate transmission to my Government.”
His excellency seemed to recognize the justice of the remark about the initiative being upon the Porte, for he answered without demur, “The council of ministers is now engaged upon the draft of a treaty; it is pretty well advanced, and when finished I will be happy to furnish you a copy for your Government.”
From the minister of foreign affairs I went to his highness the grand vizier, and led the conversation to the same subject. He said he had seen my note of inquiry, and repeated that it had been referred for report; he also said that it was his information that we were being treated exactly as the other powers; that 8 per cent, was the rate of collection upon our goods. He asked me when our delegate would be sent to arrange a new tariff. I replied that if it appeared officially that we were receiving the same treatment commercially as the other powers, I was quite confident you would direct me to send our delegate at once to enter upon the work. All the authorities of my Government asked was simple equality. He then asked me about the new treaty. I told him I thought if we entered upon the work of arranging a new tariff, at least a revision of the old treaty followed as a matter of course. He hoped America would come in with the other powers, as the aim of the Sublime Porte was to put them all, as far as possible, upon a perfect equality of privilege.
The following points, evoked by the conversation repeated, appear to offer themselves for consideration by the Department:
- If duties are now being levied upon our goods by this Government at the rate of 8 per cent, ad valorem, which is exactly that provided for by the treaty of 1862, and the same rate is being imposed upon the imports of the other powers, we have no ground of complaint against the Sublime Porte on this account.
- Our claim to favored nation treatment being thus practically admitted, is it not good policy on our part to go with the other powers and perfect a new tariff arrangement with Turkey as soon as possible.
- Such a tariff arrangement necessarily leads on to at least a revision of the commercial treaty; if so, and the Sublime Porte contemplates a unique treaty with all the powers, our equality being thus conserved, what objection can there be to our entering with the other powers into the new treaty arrangement?
I presume to advance these points now that the Department may be somewhat prepared for prompt decision when the reply to my note shall have been received.
A copy of my note of inquiry is herewith inclosed.
Very respectfully, &c.,