No. 53.
Mr. Denby to Mr. Bayard.

No. 132.]

Sir: As a further acknowledgment of your dispatch No. 45, of the 4th March last, touching the claim of John P. Cowles, jr., of Foochow, for reduction of duty on damaged exports, I have the honor to state that no actual case has as yet arisen, but if one should arise I will insist on compliance with the views stated in your dispatch of which the Tsung-li Yamên is aware by a note which I sent it on the 13th December, 1885, a copy of which I now inclose.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 132.]

Mr. Denby to the foreign office.

No. 9, 1885.]

Your Excellencies: I have the honor to bring to the notice of your imperial highness and your excellencies a question which has been submitted to me by an American merchant at Foochow in the matter of the construction put by the customs authorities at that port on the forty-fourth article of the British treaty which relates to damaged goods.

The article reads—

“Upon damaged goods a fair reduction of duty shall be (made) allowed proportionate to the deterioration. If any disputes arise they shall be settled in the manner pointed out in the clause of the treaty having reference to articles which pay duty ad valorum.”

The language cited in this article is unmistakable as to the class of goods referred to. It refers to damaged goods and none others, and which I understand to mean imports as well as exports.

The representation made to me from Foochow shows that the commissioner of customs interprets the said article of the treaty to mean only damaged imports and not exports. Such an interpretation appears to me to be decidedly unfair and unjust, and is not warranted by the language of the article cited.

The said merchant further states that he applied to the customs for permission to export some damaged brick tea at the proportionate reduction of duty, which application was refused, the commissioner of customs stating that full duty must be paid, and then he could move the authorities to obtain a refund for amount of damage the tea had sustained. I believe at some of the treaty ports a reduction is made on damaged exports in proportion to the amount of damage the goods have sustained, and I will thank your imperial highness and your excellencies to issue instructions to all the commissioners of customs at the treaty ports that the duties on damaged goods, imports and exports, shall be paid on the value of the goods, and not to demand the payment of full duties, which will save the trouble of afterwards applying for a rebate.

I have, &c.,