No. 79.
Mr. Lothrop to Mr. Bayard.
No. 159.]

Sir: On the 10th of August last this legation transmitted to the Russian Government the invitation of the United States to co operate towards “either a reduction or a complete abolition, by reciprocal action, of tonnage and equivalent charges on navigation.”

At the same time information was asked “whether in the ports of Russia or any dependencies thereof any discrimination existed against vessels of the United States as compared with those of Russia (other than those engaged in coasting or colonial trade), or the vessels of any other country.”

A reply to said communication has this day been received from the imperial foreign office, a copy of which, with a translation thereof, I herewith inclose.

It will be seen that it is answered that no such discrimination exists, but that the equality and complete reciprocity stipulated for by Article II of the treaty of commerce ratified May 11, 1833, is faithfully observed.

It is also pointed out that since the making of said treaty Russia has made treaties with other powers, and that Article XI of said treaty admits the vessels of the United States to ail the privileges granted by said later treaties to the most favored nation. But it is claimed that, in this state of things, the reduction of existing charges, etc., would place American vessels in positions more advantageous than national vessels, as under existing treaties the vessels of other nations would be admitted the same privileges. It is added, however, that the question has now no practical side, for, according to the report of 1886, only one American bottom has entered a Russian port, and only three Russian bottoms have arrived from American ports, while not a single one has cleared for that country.

For these reasons the Imperial Government declines to accede to the proposition of the United States.

The deplorable condition of the carrying trade between the United States and Russia, referred to above, was mentioned by me in my dispatch No. 10, September 16, 1885. At the beginning of this winter, after the closing of this port by ice, it was said that there were at one time, in the neighboring port of Revel, thirty cotton laden ships coming direct from America, not one of which was an American bottom.

Very truly, etc.,

Geo. V. N. Lothrop.
[Inclosure in No. 159.Translation.]
Mr. Vlangaly to Mr. Lothrop.
No. 817.]

Mr. Minister: Under date of July 29 (August 10), 1887, the legation of the United States presented to the imperial ministry the proposal of the Government of the United States to establish an agreement with the object of a reciprocal reduction or abolition of tonnage and other charges on commercial vessels.

This proposal has been submitted to the examination of the competent administrations, [Page 1954] and I am now able to inform you of the point of view from which the Imperial Government looks at this question.

By the terms of Article ii of the treaty of commerce and navigation between Russia and the United States of December 6 (18), 1832, American vessels in the ports of the Empire are treated upon the same footing as national vessels in respect to tonnage duties. Although in regard to other duties and charges, of whatever kind or denomination, American vessels are treated upon the same footing as the vessels of the most favored nations with which there is no treaty actually in force which regulates said duties and charges on the basis of an entire reciprocity, nevertheless, taking into consideration that, by Article xi of the same treaty, it is stipulated that any particular favor in commerce or navigation granted in the future to any other nation shall immediately become common to the United States, Russia having during this period made with other foreign powers treaties of commerce and navigation by which the vessels of these powers are treated on the footing of perfect equality with our national vessels, the same favor must be granted to American vessels. Consequently American vessels now enjoy in Russian ports, so far as relates to duties and charges imposed on vessels, the same privileges as the national vessels, and consequently the reduction of these charges would place American vessels in more advantageous conditions than national vessels, and as a consequence this privilege would have to be granted to the vessels of every nation which, by virtue of treaties actually in force, enjoys the privileges of the most favored nation.

Independently of the considerations above stated there is one having a practical side which could not be disputed.

The proposal of the Government of the United States, in case of its acceptance, would have a very restricted application, for, according to the report for the year 1886, there has been only one arrival and one departure of an American vessel in Russia, and only three of Russian vessels coming from America and not one destined for that country.

By reason of the foregoing the Imperial Government does not see its way to accede to the proposal of the Government of the United States.

Receive, Mr. Minister, etc.,

A. Vlangaly.