No. 24.
Mr. Magee to Mr. Bayard .

No. 133.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy in French of a note received on the 13th instant, from Count Ehrensvärd, secretary of foreign affairs for the Royal Kingdoms, relating to tonnage dues charged by the Norwegian Government on vessels trading at ports in the Arctic and White Seas.

I have thought it best to transmit a copy of the note rather than to trust to my own translation of the same.

It will be observed that by a recent law of the Norwegian Government a change in tonnage dues has been made on vessels trading with ports in the Arctic zone, so as to bring the charges into unison with the existing treaty.

I have, etc.,

Rufus Magee.
[Inclosure in No. 133.—Translation.]

Count Ehrensvärd to Mr. Magee .

Mr. Minister: With a view to completing the information which I sent to you with my note of October 25, 1887, concerning the navigation dues of Sweden and in Norway, I have the honor herewith to transmit to you a law which was promulgated in Norway on the 30th of June last, whereby a change has been made as regards the reduced duty (40 öre per ton) that was enjoyed by the navigation of the Arctic zones.

This law, as formerly worded, granted the benefit of the reduction to all vessels arriving from or sailing for ports in the Arctic Ocean and the White Sea.

Although the only vessels that were really benefited by this privilege were those engaged in the unimportant local coasting trade of those northern regions, where from time immemorial no distinction of nationality has been made, it nevertheless seemed to the royal government that the text of the law might appear to the United States Government not to be in conformity with Article VIII of the treaty of 1827 between the United Kingdoms and the United States. It might, indeed, have been remarked that a vessel arriving from a Russian port in the White Sea in a Norwegian port situated south of the Arctic region (which, by the way, has never yet happened, and [Page 1887] probably will not do so for a long time to come, save as rare exception) would pay but 40 öre per ton whereas a vessel arriving from the United States in the same port would pay 80 öre. It is true that the hypothesis was not probable, but it was still possible. It was consequently deemed necessary by the Government of the King to change the form of the text of the law, in order to remove even the appearance of any lack of conformity with the stipulations of the treaty of 1827. A royal proposition to this effect was approved immediately by the Storthing of Norway, and, as you will perceive, the text of the new law provides that a reduction of the tonnage and light duty of 40 öre per ton is henceforth to be granted to all vessels arriving at or sailing from Hammerfest, Vardöe, and Vadsö. The privilege that might have been enjoyed by a vessel arriving from a Russian Arctic port in a Norwegian port lying south of the Arctic Ocean has thus been eliminated, and the Norwegian law is now in form, what it has always been in fact, in strict conformity with the treaty.

I hope that your Government will regard the care which we have taken to make our law harmonize with the treaty, without even waiting for a complaint on its part, as an evidence of our sincere desire to keep our international engagements in all joints with the most scrupulous fidelity.

Be pleased, etc.,