No. 2.
Mr. Porter to Mr. Tree.
No. 20.]

Sir: Your dispatch No. 26, of the 13th ultimo, giving an account of your interview with the Belgian minister of foreign affairs concerning the construction placed by his Government upon the favored-nation clauses of certain treaties, has been read with interest.

Your views as to the construction of section 14 of the shipping act of June 26, 1884, agree with those expressed by the President in his annual message to Congress, in which he says that—

This Government holds that the privileges granted by the act are purely geographical, inuring to any vessel of any foreign power that may choose to engage in traffic between this country and any port within the defined zone, and no warrant exists under the most favored-nation clause for the extension of the privileges in question to vessels sailing to this country from ports outside the limitation of the act.

It may be observed, moreover, that the Belgian contention, if sound, would demand for Belgian vessels coming from Belgian ports a favorable treatment which could not under our statute be accorded to American vessels making the same voyage, for a treaty stipulation with Belgium could not give this Government the power to exempt its own, vessels in its own ports from the tonnage duties imposed upon them by law.

I am, sir, etc.,

Jas. D. Porter.