No. 79.
Mr. Hall to Mr. Bayard.

No. 751.]

Sir: With my dispatch No. 718 of the 12th of October last, I transmitted a copy of my note of the same date to the minister for foreign [Page 96] affairs of Costa Rica, relative to the rebate of 5 per cent, in customs duties which that Government concedes to all merchandise imported into the Pacific ports of Costa Rica by the steamers of the so called Spanish Central American line plying between Panama and San Francisco.

I have now to inform the Department that up to this date I have received no reply to or acknowledgment of the note referred to, although I have reason to believe that it has been in possession of the minister for the past six weeks or more.

In the mean time four steamers of the before-mentioned line are plying between Panama and San Francisco, all of them enjoying this 5 per cent, rebate in the port of Punta Arenas; this alone is sufficient to exclude the Pacific Mail Company’s steamers and all other American vessels from the import trade of Costa Rica in her ports on the Pacific.

One of the steamers of the Central American or Campo line is named the Casta Rica and sails under the Costa Rican flag.

It has been contended that this rebate, if conceded to vessels of a distinct nationality, is not contrary to the treaty stipulations of the United States with these republics. I do not believe that the Department is prepared to admit such a claim, but while there might be the shadow of a doubt on this point as regards the vessels of other nationalities, there can be, in my judgement, none whatever that the Government of Costa Rica in granting such rebate to vessels sailing under the Costa Rican flag, to the prejudice of the commerce of the United States, totally disregarded its treaty obligations.

The treaty of 1851, between the United States and Costa Rica, provides, among other stipulations, for reciprocal freedom of commerce. Article VI provides, substantially, that the same duties shall be paid upon importations into Costa Rica, whether the same shall be made in Costa Rican vessels or in vessels of the United States.

I inclose herewith a translation of a letter from the Costa Rican consul at Panama to the minister of foreign affairs of Costa Rica, announcing the arrival at that port on the 6th of September last of the steamer bearing the name and sailing under the flag of that republic; a copy of a letter dated October 25, from the consul of the United States at San José, in answer to my inquiries as to whether the rebate referred to is being carried out, and copies of two letters upon the same subject, from Mr. Leverich, the special agent of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company in Central America, to all of which I beg to invite the Department’s attention.

As Costa Rica discriminates in her Pacific ports against vessels of the United States and their cargoes, and in favor of her own flag, it is but just that the discrimination provided for by section 2502 of the Revised Statutes should be applied to Costa Rican vessels and their cargoes in the port of San Francisco.

I have, etc.,

Henry C. Hall.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 751.—Translation.]

Consul Boyd to Señor Esquivel.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to inform you that the national steamer Costa Rica, Capt. Don José Asín, of the line of the Marquis de Campo, arrived at this port on the 6th instant

She is a beautiful vesael of 4,000 tons register, three masts, new machinery of 2,000 [Page 97] horse-power; she employed 53½ days on the voyage fron Antwerp to Panama, subdivided as follows:

Antwerp to Buenos Ayres, twenty-seven days; Buenos Ayres to Port Coronel, fifteen days; Port Coronel to Panama, eleven and one-half days; notwithstanding bad weather.

I am pleased to certify that Commander Asín brings all of his documents in order, and upon these conditions she will clear to-day for Champerico, touching on her return at Punta Arenas.

In congratulating the supreme government upon the inauguration of this line, which is destined to promote development and progress in that republic in its manifold interests,

I beg, etc.,

Samuel Boyd,
[Inclosure 2 in No. 751.]

Mr. Wingfield to Mr. Hall.

Sir: In reply to your letter of the 12th October, 1887, I understand that the contract between the Costa Rican Government and the Spanish American Line of steamers, by which a rebate of 5 per centum on duties upon merchandise brought upon said steamers is allowed, is being carried out.

I am, etc.,

J. Rich’d Wingfield.
[Incisure 3 in No. 751.]

Mr. Leverich to Mr. Hall.

Sir: At La Libertad, on the 4th instant, I found a quantity of cigars stored awaiting shipment to Costa Rica per Marquis de Campo Line. I offered to take them at the same rate of freight which the Campo Line charges; 20 per cent, less than our tariff. The owner, however, refused my offer on the ground that Costa Rica allows a rebate of 5 per cent, in the duties on merchandise imported by the Campo steamers.

I bring this to your attention to show you how impossible it is for this company to compete with the Campo Line while these discriminating duties exist.

I am, etc.,

J. H. Leverich,
Special Agent.
[Inclosure 4 in No. 751.]

Mr. Leverich to Mr. Hall.

Sir: I beg to transcribe for your information the following extract from a letter which I have received from this company’s agent at Punta Arenas (Costa Rica) dated the 24th ultimo:

“The matter of the 5 per cent, rebate is still in the same shape; this protection of the Campo Line induces importers to give it the preference over ours, especially for all articles paying high duties, like cigars, which pay $2 per kilogram.

The Guatemala brought to this port 80 tons of different kinds of goods from San Francisco.”

The foregoing will suffice to show you how handicapped this company is in meeting this competition against a discriminating customs duty of 5 per cent, in favor of the Campo Line.

* * *

J. H. Leverich,
Special Agent.