Mr. Bayard to Baron Fava
Washington , March 12, 1886.
Baron: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 16th ultimo, calling attention to the provisions of section 14 of the act of Congress of June 26, 1884, “to remove certain burdens on the American merchant marine,” etc., reducing the amount of tonnage-tax on vessels entered in any port of the United States from any foreign port in North America, Central America, and certain other quarters named, and fixing a “duty of 6 cents per ton * * * at each entry upon all vessels which shall be entered in the United States from any other foreign ports.”
Your note also calls attention to the provisions of Article XXIY of the treaty of February 26, 1871, between Italy and the United States, which reads: “The United States of America and the Kingdom of Italy mutually engage not to grant any particular favor to other nations, in respect to commerce and navigation, which shall not immediately become common to the other party, who shall enjoy the same freely if the concession was freely made, or on allowing the same compensation if the concession was conditional;” and you communicate the request of your Government, in view of said section 14 and Article XXIY of the treaty, that vessels from Italian ports “may likewise enjoy from the date of the aforesaid act of Congress the same privilege that is accorded * * * to vessels coming from ports in the countries enumerated in section 14.”
The Department had occasion to present the question of the proper interpretation of the fourteenth section of the act mentioned in connection with the “favored-nation clause” of our treaties with certain countries to the Attorney-General in September last. The opinion communicated in reply is that—
The discrimination as to tonnage duty in favor of vessels sailing from the regions mentioned in the act and entered in our ports is purely geographical in character, inuring to the advantage of any vessel of any power that may choose to fetch and carry between this country and any port embraced in the fourteenth section of the act; and that no warrant exists to claim that there is anything in “the most favored-nation” clause of the treaties between this country and the powers mentioned—
in the letter of this Department to the Attorney-General of the 8th September, of which Italy was one—
that entitles them to have the privileges of the fourteenth section extended to their vessels sailing to this country from ports outside the limitation of the act.
It will be seen that the opinion above relates to the entire scope of article 14 of the act of 1884, and therein furnishes the reply to the second branch of your inquiry, as well as the first.
Accept, baron, etc.,