No. 356.
Mr. Bell to Mr. Bayard.

No. 117.]

Sir: Referring to previous correspondence in reference to the project of the Government to impose an import duty on petroleum imported into the Dutch East India colonies, and especially to my No. 105, of the 21st January last, in which I stated:

As an evidence of the fiscal nature of the proposed project, he (the minister of foreign affairs) cites the fact before referred to by me, that the minister of the colonies is now consulting with colonial authorities with the view to a change of the project from an import duty to an excise tax, and suggests that if such a course is adopted it will be a still further proof that the project is not intended as a prohibitive measure or a blow at the commerce of the United States.

If such a step is taken, it seems to me that it should, in all justice, be regarded as a positive guarantee of the earnest desire of this Government to so shape their fiscal legislation as to foster and encourage the petroleum trade in the colonies.

I have now the honor to report that in an interview with the minister of foreign affairs to-day, I was authorized to state that this ministry have modified their project as follows;

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The import duty to remain at 6 per cent, ad valorem for the present, until the introduction of an excise tax, which, it is said, will be fixed at 1.75 florins (1 florin and 75 cents) per hectoliter; in which case, it is said, the import duty will be fixed at 25 cents per hectoliter.

As the details of this new measure are to be perfected in the colonies the Government here are unable to specify a date upon which the proposed excise will take effect in event of the project becoming a law.

The modified project will, it is said, still encounter many adversaries in the Second Chamber.

I have, &c.,