Baron Saurma to Mr. Gresham.
Washington, October 13, 1894.
Mr. Secretary of State: Pursuant to instructions I have the honor to invite your attention to the following matter:
According to section 608 of the new tariff act of the United States, salt shall be generally exempt from duty, but shall be subject to the former duty when it is imported from a country which imposes a duty upon salt exported from the United States.
In virtue of this resolution it is understood that the Treasury Department of the United States has issued an order making the former tariff to apply to salt imported from Germany.
The Imperial Government desires to point out that in its opinion a duty that is made to weigh upon salt imported from Germany would not be found to agree with the rights of the most favored nation, which, according to the treaties of commerce in force, are guaranteed to Germany.
In these treaties it is determined that no higher duty shall be levied upon the imports into the United States of the products of German soil and industry than that levied upon similar products of any other country. It does not seem reconcilable, therefore, with this clear and unconditional stipulation that the imports from Germany should from any other cause be excluded from the free list or a tariff reduction that may be granted to other countries. In this light, especially, it is irrelevant to consider whether like American products are subjected in Germany to any duty or to what duty they are subjected.
Quite apart from this view, which is adduced from the treaties in force, it must also be considered that Germany does not actually levy a duty upon American salt. On foreign salt entering by the way of land or rivers into Germany a duty of 12 marks and 80 pfennigs per each 100 kilograms is levied; by way of sea only 12 marks. This rate of 12 marks constitutes the equivalent of the assessment of the corresponding salt taxes of the German States (see act of October 12, 1867, for the territory of the former North German Confederates, Bunesge-setzblatt, p. 41), levied upon the domestic salt industry, and which also amount to 12 marks per 100 kilograms. Albeit this rate in question is specified in the German tariff, it is virtually no real duty, but only an internal tax, and certainly does not provide the least protection to the internal salt industry.[Page 241]
Moreover, imported foreign salt, which is not destined for human consumption, but for industrial and agricultural purposes (especially for feed for cattle), is exempt from this rate of 12 marks, which is also the case with the assessment of internal salt intended for such purposes. This exemption occurs especially when the salt, through deterioration, has been made unfit for human use.
As the importation of American salt into Germany would naturally take place only by sea, it follows from the above statement that the presumptions under which a duty is to be placed upon salt imported into the United States do not exist for German salt not intended for human use, particularly for deteriorated salt, according to the letter, and for German eating salt, according to the spirit of section 608, above quoted.
In submitting, according to instructions, the above to your excellency and the competent authorities for friendly examination and consideration, I am hopeful that the Government of the United States will share the view of the Imperial Government in this matter, and therefore be able to place German salt imported into the United States on the free list.
May I ask to be advised of the decision reached?