Wechherlin to Mr. Bayard.
New York , November 8, 1886. (Received November 10.)
Mr. Secretary of State:
As you are aware, section 11 of the act of Congress approved June 19, 1886 (“Public” No. 85), and entitled “An act to abolish certain fees for official services to American vessels, and the laws relating to shipping commissioners, seamen, and owners of vessels, and for other purposes,” after fixing the rates of tonnage duties to be paid by all vessels entering & port of the United States of America, provides as follows:
Provided, That the President of the United States shall suspend the collection of so much of the duty herein imposed on vessels entering from any foreign port as may be in excess of the tonnage and light-house dues, or other equivalent tax or taxes, imposed in said port on American vessels by the Government of the foreign country in which such port is situated, and shall, upon the passage of this act, and from time to time thereafter, as often as it may become necessary by reason of changes in the laws of the foreign countries above mentioned, indicate by proclamation the ports to which such suspension shall apply, and the rate or rates of tonnage duty, if any, to be collected under such suspension.
Prodded further, That such proclamation shall exclude from the benefits of the suspension herein authorized the vessels of any foreign country in whose ports the fees or dues of any kind or nature imposed on vessels of the United States, or the import or export duties on their cargoes, are in excess of the fees, dues, or duties imposed on the vessels of the country in which such port is situated, or on the cargoes of such vessels; and sections 4223 and 4224, and so much of section 4219 of the Revised Statutes as conflict with this section, are hereby repealed.
In view of these provisions, I take the liberty to call your attention to the fact that Article I of the law of the Netherlands, which bears date of June 3, 1875, No. 101 (the said law still being in force), abolished light-house and light dues, tonnage dues, and beacon and buoy dues in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
I will add that my Government does not impose any other equivalent tax upon foreign vessels, no matter under what flag they may sail.
It is probably superfluous for me to remind your excellency that vessels belonging to the United States of America, and their cargoes, are not required in the Netherlands to pay any “fee or due of any kind or nature,” or any import duty higher or other than would be payable by vessels of the Netherlands or their cargoes.
As to export duties, which are likewise mentioned in the act of June 19, 1886, you know that none exist in the Netherlands.
The same is the case in the free ports of the Dutch East Indies, a list of which you will find herewith, and in which not only are vessels subjected to no fiscal tax, but no import or export duties are levied there.
My Government thinks, Mr. Secretary of State, that the ports of the Netherlands which I have just mentioned, viz, those in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (in Europe) and the free ports in the Dutch East Indies, fulfill the conditions required by section 11 of the act of June 19, 1886, and I am consequently instructed to beg you to be pleased, [Page 906] with your accustomed kindness, to cause such measures to be adopted that the collection of tonnage dues in the United States of America may be suspended in the case of vessels coming from the ports in question.
Be pleased to accept, etc.,