Weckerlin to Mr. Bayard.
Washington , February 15, 1886. (Received February 15.)
In pursuance of instructions received from my Government, I have the honor to ask your kind attention to Schedule F of the tariff now in force in the United States of America.
Paragraphs 2 and 3 of that schedule have no other object than to hamper, as far as possible, the importation of leaf tobacco from Sumatra, without doing the same to leaf tobacco from other countries. They virtually provide for the imposition of a duty of 75 cents and $1 per pound (which is excessive) on our product, while they permit the importation of a similar product on payment of a duty of 35 cents per pound. They thus seek not only to exclude our tobacco from the American market, but they establish a difference of custom-house usage to our detriment.
My Government cannot avoid considering whether this legislation, which some persons desire to render still more onerous, is in harmony with the usage accorded in the Netherlands to imports from the United States, or with the efforts which we are constantly making to extend our commercial relations with North America.
Long would be the list of articles produced in the Netherlands which are not permitted by the tariff of March 3, 1883, to find a market in the United States. Notwithstanding this fact, and although many other productions of the Netherlands are subjected to very high duties in this country, although the United States compel our vessels to pay tonnage dues, while vessels carrying the American flag are obliged to pay no such charge in the Netherlands, the productions of the soil and industry of the United States are admitted into our country on the basis of a tariff which (with a few exceptions that have been introduced for the purpose of meeting the requirements of the treasury) grants, in general, exemption from duties to unmanufactured articles, and only subjects semi-wrought and manufactured articles to duties amounting to about from 3 to 5 per cent, ad valorem. No discrimination is made to the detriment of the United States, and American goods arriving in the ports of the Netherlands are treated there on a footing of perfect equality with similar productions from other countries.
The aforesaid provisions of Schedule F being, therefore, wholly at variance with the liberal principles enforced by our commercial policy with respect to the United States (which, in our opinion, ought to be [Page 761] sufficient to protect us against any measures like those now under consideration), the treatment of Sumatra tobacco in this country may give rise to well-founded apprehensions as regards general commerce between the two nations.
The value of the exports from the United States of America to the Netherlands and their colonies during the fiscal year 1884–’85 was, according to American statistics, upwards of $19,000,000. The exports of the Netherlands and their colonies to the United States amounted, during the same period, to about $9,000,000. Can it be expected that this annual exportation of about nineteen millions will be increased, or will even be maintained at its present figure, if the United States continue to close their markets more and more to what we have to offer them in exchange?
To raise this question is probably equivalent to settling it. The broad views that characterize you, Mr. Secretary of State, render it unnecessary for me to enter into details on this subject.
They also render it superfluous for me to point out how greatly exaggerated are the fears of the planters of “seed leaf,” who are the only ones that fear the competition of Sumatra tobacco.
It therefore merely remains for me to express the hope that the United States Government will have the kindness to examine the statements which I have just presented for your consideration, and that it will be pleased to cause the enactment of the legislative measures necessary to place Sumatra tobacco in the United States on a footing of equality with tobacco from other countries, and to prevent our tobacco from being excluded, by an excessive duty, from its natural place among the principal articles of commerce between the two countries.
Be pleased to accept, &c.,