Mr. Romero to Mr. Gresham.
Washington, May 14, 1894. (Received May 15.)
Mr. Secretary: I received to-day the note from your Department, dated the 12th instant, which informs me that the consuls of the United States in Mexico have reported that a discriminating duty in the nature of a tonnage duty at the rate of $1.50 per ton is still levied on sailing vessels whose owners are not Mexican citizens, with the exception only of those that carry coal and coke, for which reason the Government of the United States can not accede to the recommendation of that of Mexico to suspend the circular of the Treasury Department of the 27th of May, 1889, issued in pursuance of article 2502 of the Revised Statutes, which imposed a discriminating duty of 10 per cent ad valorem upon Mexican goods imported in Mexican vessels.
I have communicated the note of your Department to the Government of Mexico for its information and decision, but I believe it proper to state to you now that article 18 of the tariff of June 12, 1891, nor in force, and not that of 1885, quoted by the consuls of this country, does not establish discriminating tonnage duties against sailing vessels of the United States with respect to like vessels of other foreign countries, but which fixes the tonnage duty paid by all foreign sailing vessels that arrive at Mexican ports, provided they do not carry coal or coke, which exemption is established in order to lessen the price of pit coal in Mexico.
As I understand that article, it seems that national sailing vessels are exempt from all tonnage duty, and foreign sailing vessels pay a duty of $1.50 per ton, with the exception already referred to, which does not create a discriminating duty against the United States, especially, since that duty is not imposed on all sailing vessels of which the owners are not Mexican citizens, as stated in your note, but on all vessels flying a foreign flag, exempting only those which carry pit coal. In this case there would be a trifling advantage accorded to national vessels with regard to foreign vessels; but all these are treated alike.
As regards the method of tonnage admeasurement, if the system adopted by the Government of Mexico gives an excess of 28.3 per cent over the tonnage of the vessel the result is that the duty is equivalent to something more than $1.50 per ton, but as the same system is applicable to all sailing vessels subject to the duty, there is no discrimination prejudicial to the vessels of the United States.