Baron Fava to Mr. Bayard.
Washington , February 16, 1886. (Received February 17.)
Mr. Secretary of State:
In pursuance of the provisions of the fourteenth section of the act of Congress of June 26, 1884, “to remove certain burdens on the American merchant marine,” &c., vessels coming from the ports of North and Central America, and from the West India, Bahama, Bermuda, and Sandwich Islands, or from Newfoundland, have, since the aforesaid act took effect, been subjected, on their arrival in the United States, to the payment of a duty of 3 cents per ton, not exceeding, in the aggregate, 15 cents per ton in any one year, while a duty of 6 cents per ton, not exceeding, in the aggregate, 30 cents per ton in any one year, continues to be levied upon vessels coming from Italian ports. Having been duly informed of this fact, the Government of the King instructs me, and I have the honor hereby to request the Federal Government to be pleased to adopt the necessary measures to the end that vessels coming from Italian ports may likewise enjoy, from the date of the aforesaid act of Congress, the same privilege that is accorded by the fourteenth section of the act in question to vessels coming from ports in the countries enumerated in the section aforesaid.
It is scarcely necessary to remind your excellency that the request which I have been instructed to lay before you is based upon Article 24 of the treaty of June 25, 1871, Which is now in force between Italy and the United States. The English text of said article is as follows:
The United States of America and the Kingdom, of Italy mutually engage not to grant any particular favor to other nations, in respect to commerce and navigation, which shall not immediately become common to the other party, who shall enjoy the same freely, if the concession was freely made, or on allowing the same compensation, if the concession was conditional.
The fourteenth section of the act “to remove certain burdens on the American merchant marine,” &c., further provides that—
The President of the United States shall suspend the collection of so much of the duty herein imposed, on vessels entered from any port in the Dominion of Canada, Newfoundland, the Bahama Islands, the Bermuda Islands, the West India Islands, Mexico, and Central America, down to and including Aspinwall and Panama, as may be in excess of the tonnage and light-house dues or other equivalent tax or taxes imposed on American vessels by the Government of the foreign country in which such port is situated.
The President, in the exercise of this power, has suspended, by his proclamation of January 31, 1885, the collection of the tax of 3 cents per ton on vessels coming from certain ports in Canada, the United States of Colombia, and other countries.
On the ground, moreover, of the clause contained in Article 24 of the treaty concluded in 1871 between Italy and the United States, the Royal Government regards the conditional privilege granted by the second paragraph of the fourteenth section of the act of Congress of 1884, and by the proclamation of the President of the United States, as already secured in behalf of Italian vessels coming from the ports of the Peninsula. [Page 557] Consequently, if it shall be possible to prove that American vessels are subjected in Italian ports to the payment of no tonnage or lighthouse duty, or to that of no equivalent tax, or that American vessels pay less than 3 cents per ton in Italian ports, the duties which Italian vessels are now obliged to pay in the ports of the United States should be entirely suspended or proportionally reduced.
As the Italian Government is not prepared, just at present, to furnish such proof (although it reserves the privilege of so doing in future communications), it instructs me, in the mean time, to bring the foregoing to the attention of the American Government, and to ask your excellency’s good offices to the end that the duty of 6 cents per ton, which is still levied in the ports of the United States upon vessels coming from those of Italy, may be reduced to 3 cents, from the date of the promulgation of the act “to remove certain burdens on the American merchant marine,” &c.
Be pleased to accept, &c.,