No. 423.
Mr. Manning to Mr. Bayard .

No. 29.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your No. 19, of 23d ultimo, with inclosures, relative to the complaint of Messrs. F. Alexandre & Sons of an alleged discrimination by the Mexican Government in favor of the Spanish Transatlantic Company, in a rebate of 2 per cent. customs duties, accorded that line, to the detriment of Messrs. Alexandres line of steamers.

It is apparent, as observed by you, that the 2 per. cent, rebate of duties is not accorded to the goods for the benefit of the importers thereof, but that the Spanish company is to be paid a sum equivalent to that rebate collectable on the foreign goods carried in its steamers to Mexican ports, which payment is to be in part satisfaction of the subvention [Page 679] granted by the Mexican Government in its contract of August 1, 1886. But it is equally apparent that while this advantage given to the Spanish steamers is not put in the form of a discrimination, it amounts to one practically.

I shall at once ascertain from Señor Mariscal what is the construction put by his Government upon the contract with the Spanish company, and what is the action of his Government under that contract; but I presume I shall receive for answer that, so far as the Mexican Government is concerned, it is not a discrimination, either in form or substance, but that they do actually collect the whole of the duties that are properly chargeable upon the goods, and that the owners of the steamers, by a private arrangement with shippers, return to them 2 per cent. of the duties they have paid. Should such be the answer of Señor Mariscal, I do not see what relief can be afforded the complainants in this case, but that shall not prevent me from using every effort in my power for their relief.

I inclose to you a copy of a note I have just written to Señor Mariscal upon the subject.

I am, etc.,

Th. C. Manning.
[Inclosmre in No. 29.]

Mr. Manning to Mr. Mariscal.

Sir: Mr. Bayard, under date of 23d ultimo, has transmitted me a complaint of Messrs. F. Alexandre & Sons, of New York, of a discrimination they allege to be made by the Government of Mexico in favor of the recently established Spanish line of transatlantic steamers, this discrimination being in form of a rebate of 2 per cent. of customs duties in favor of the importers of goods into Mexico through that line. Of course such discrimination operates greatly to the detriment of the Alexandre line of steamers, and if it continues to be made would greatly injure, if not entirely destroy, the carrying trade now existing between the United States and Mexico. the communication of Mr. Bayard is accompanied by certain letters addressed by prominent merchants in New York, confirming the complaint of Messrs. Alexandre, in one of which Maitland, Phelps &> Co. write “We have received instructions to ship goods to Vera Cruz by the Spanish steamer on account of the reduction of 2 per cent. in the duties on goods imported into Mexico on that line.”

Another letter, from Marquardt & Co. to Messrs. Alexandre, says, “We have positive orders from our correspondents in Mexico to ship by the steamers of the new Spanish line;” and then proceeds to give extracts from two letters, of two several firms of Vera Cruz, both of which direct all shipments to them to be made by the Spanish line, because such shipments are entitled to a rebate of 2 per cent. on duties of imporations.

Your excellency will therefore perceive that whether or not the discrimination is intended to be made by the Mexican Government in favor of this Spanish line of steamers, practically it is made, and the Spanish line enjoys the benefit of it as much as if it were directed by law or were stipulated in the contract of last August.

Your excellency can not fail to perceive the unfriendly character of such discrimination, which strikes directly a most damaging blow at the American carrying trade to Mexico, and shippers, as well as all other practical men, will not be the less aggrieved by it, whether this discrimination is inimically designed or not. By the provisions of the shipping acts of 1884 and 1886 marked favors have been given to Mexico at the promptings of neighborhood. For instance, all vessels bringing goods from Mexican ports, under whatever Hag, are entitled to a considerable reduction of tonnage dues in our own ports. If the impression were made upon the Government and people of the United States that any act had been done by the Government of Mexico which would greatly injure the carrying trade of the United States with your country, and which should inevitably exclude the United States from sharing in the enlarged intercourse which our legislation created, it would be a serious calamity; for such a conviction could not fail to affect injuriously the opportunities which are continually presenting themselves for the development of our neighborly relations [Page 680] with Mexico. Your excellency’s long residence in the United States enables you to realize vividly how much public opinion affects legislation there, and how difficult it is to dispel impressions when once made, even though they are wholly erroneous.

Trussing, therefore, that your excellency will give me all the information you have upon this question, in order that it may be speedily transmitted to my Government, and that the impressions of shippers and other business men touching this discrimination alleged by Messrs. Alexandre to be made may be dispelled, I beg to renew to your excellency, etc.,

Th. C. Manning.