No. 77.
Mr. Buck to Mr. Bayard.
No. 282.]

Sir: As instructed in Department’s circular of July 9, which I received on the 24th ultimo, I have advised the foreign office relative to act of Congress, approved June 19, 1886, to abolish certain fees for official services to American vessels, etc., as will fully appear in copy of note which I inclose.

I am, sir, etc.,

Chas. W. Buck.
[Inclosure in No. 282.]
Mr. Buck to Mr. Eliaa.
No. 55.]

Sir: Under an act of Congress approved Juno 19, 1886, a reduction was made in the tonnage tax of 30 cents per ton per annum, formerly collected, and instead, a duty of 3 cents per ton is imposed, not to exceed in the aggregate 15 cents per ton in any one year on each entry of vessels into United States ports from all foreign ports and places in North America, Central America, the West India Islands, or the coast of South America bordering on the Caribbean Sea. This, it may be observed, has been considered as applying to a geographical zone, not involving a test of flag; while on vessels from all other foreign ports a duty of 6 cents per ton is imposed on each entry, not to exceed 30 cents per ton per annum in the aggregate, and not, however, to include vessels in distress or not engaged, in trade.

[Page 1952]

It is also provided in the same act that the President of the United States shall suspend the collection of so much of the duty imposed on vessels entering from any foreign port as may be in excess of the tonnage and lighthouse 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 may be situated, and shall, as often as it may be necessary by reason of changes in the laws of foreign countries, 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: Provided, That such proclamation shall exclude from the benefits of such suspension 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.

The President, under the law, is directed to cause the Governments of foreign countries which, at any of their ports impose on American vessels a tonnage tax or lighthouse dues, or other equivalent tax or taxes, or any other fees, charges, or dues, to be informed of the provisions of the relevant section of said law, and to invite them to cooperate with the Government of the United States in abolishing all lighthouse dues, tonnage taxes, or other equivalent tax or taxes on and also all other fees for official services to the vessels of the respective nations employed in the trade between ports of such countries and ports of the United States.

It will be seen that the provisions of the law referred to are broad enough to cover either a reduction or a complete abrogation by reciprocal action, of tonnage and equivalent charges on navigation; and it is open to any foreign country in all or any of whose ports a less charge is made than that now imposed in the ports of the United States to obtain forthwith a reduction of the charge in the United States on vessels from such port or ports, to an equality with that levied in the port or ports designated.

In view of these facts I am directed to invite the Government of Peru to cooperate with the United States toward the contemplated ends.

The intent of the present invitation is to deal, on the basis of reciprocity, without reference to geographical limits. In order that the statutory provisions may be fully understood, in case this explanation may seem in any way inadequate, I inclose a copy of the law with the sections marked to which I have referred.

I am further instructed to ascertain whether in the ports of Peru or in any dependency thereof, any discrimination exists against vessels of the United States as compared with the vessels of Peru (other than those engaged in coasting trade), or of any other country, and if so, the precise nature and extent of such discrimination; in order that the Government of the United States may determine how far shipping of Peru is to be restricted or excluded from the privileges created under the existing laws, or under arrangements of reciprocity if effected under the authorization of this indicated statute.

Both in thus communicating this invitation and in seeking the information just mentioned I desire to convey the fullest assurances to your excellency of the entire frieudliness of the action of my Government, and of its desire to treat the commerce and flag of Peru on the footing of the most complete reciprocity in those matters to which the invitation relates.

Presenting herewith, etc.,

Chas. W. Buck.