No. 352.
Mr. Bell to Mr. Bayard.

No. 91.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 88, of the 22d instant, in which I give an account of my interview with the minister of foreign affairs when presenting the opinion of the Government of the United States relative to the effect on the commerce of the two countries in case pending measure looking to an increase of the duty on petroleum imported into the colonies, were adopted.

I now have the honor to inform you that the minister of finance, on the 23d instant, presented to the Second Chamber of the States General a project for imposing import duties in the Netherlands upon petroleum, sawn timber, and southern fruits, fresh and preserved, and for increasing the duties on tea.

This new project of the Government, presented to the Chamber almost immediately after the presentation to the foreign office here of the views of the Government of the United States relative to the injurious effect upon the commerce of the two countries by the adoption of the pending measures looking to the levying of duties on petroleum imported into the colonies, and before a written answer had been returned to my note relating thereto, appears to be a positive indication that this Government has no intention to recede from its position.

This special and exceptional measure will at all events constitute an additional embarrassment in the way of further negotiations, and will, if adopted, have in its realization very grave inconveniences to our trade in the Netherlands as well as in the colonies. * * *

It is estimated that the sum of 1,000,000 florins will be realized from this project.

The statistical reports recently issued by this Government show that 88,675,757 kilos of petroleum were imported into the Netherlands from the United States during the year 1884.

It will, then, be seen that of the entire amount (1,000,000 florins) which is to be raised, that American petroleum is expected to pay over 800,000 florins, the proposed duty being at the rate of 1 florin per 100 kilos.

Ship-building timber, another item extensively imported from the United States, will contribute a large proportion of the remaining 200,000 florins.

It is a noticeable fact that in the reading of the proposed measure the duty is to be levied upon “sawn wood fit for construction of ships, im-imported by sea without breaking bulk.”

The present policy of the Government, if carried out, must necessarily lead to a serious derangement of the trade between the two countries.

* * * * * * *

It is not necessary to give any further outline of the present project than that it directly strikes two items of American commerce in the Netherlands, and was presented at a time and under circumstances which do not seem to leave any doubt as to the intention of the Government.

I inclose herewith a translation of the proposed project, immediately after the presentation of which the States General adjourned until February, so no consideration of the measure can be held until, then.

[Page 741]

In connection with the duty on timber suitable for ship-building, I may add that in the trade statistics of the Netherlands for 1884 I find the following items:

Import, by sea, from the United States 49,034,485
Sweden 203,790,650
Russia 224,272,000
Germany 33,978,869

In addition to this the import from Germany overland amounted to 162,250,000 kilos, which, owing to the geographical position of the countries, was nil.

The project consequently seems to greatly favor the commerce with Germany.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 91.]

The minister of finance has presented to the Second Chamber of the States General a project tending to modify the present customs tariff of the Netherlands, as follows:

Merchandise. New tariff. Old tariff.
Unit. Rate. Unit. Rate.
Florins. Florins.
Almonds 100 kilos 8 100 kilos 4
Lemon and orange peel preserved do 6 Value 5 per cent.
Ditto, not preserved do 1.50
Ship-building (fit for the construction of naval and civil, imported by sea without breaking bulk). The cubic meter 0.30
All other kinds, with the exception of unsawn (fit for the construction of ships). Value 3 per cent.
Raisins from Corinth 100 kilos 3 100 kilos 1.50
Raisins, dried, not specially denominated do 4 do 2
Petroleum do 1
Melon peel preserved do 6 3
Tea do 40 25
Figs do 2 1
Fruits and grapes not specially tariffed Value 5 per cent.
Oranges from China 100 kilos 1.25
Dates do 1.40
Chestnuts do 1.20
Oranges do 1
All other fruits Value 5 per cent.

The product of the increase is estimated by the minister at the sum of one million florins.