Mr. Gresham to Prince Cantacuzène.

No. 6.]

Sir: Since the receipt of your note of December 9, 1893, in which you request to be informed as to the commercial treatment proposed to be accorded by the United States to Russia in view of the friendly action of your Government in extending to the productions of the United States the same treatment as certain French productions enjoy on importations into the Empire, the general subject has been considered in several conversations had between us from time to time during the past year, in which I took occasion to refer to the then pending tariff legislation before Congress as preventing a positive declaration on my part as to the future. Since the adoption of the present tariff act you have made oral request for a formal reply to your note.

You refer in particular to Articles VI and XI of the treaty of 1832 between the United States and Russia, the former of which stipulated reciprocal exemption from higher import duties than those levied upon the like products of any other country, while the latter engaged that any advantage in commerce or navigation granted then or thereafter by either party to a third country should immediately inure to the other, unconditionally or for equivalent considerations, accordingly as it might be freely or conditionally granted to such third country; and you asked the views of this Government touching the scope and intendment of those articles, in the light of the Russo-French commercial treaties, by which France gives to Russia reduced rates on mineral illuminants, crude or refined, and Russia gives to France a scheduled reduction of tariff rates on certain French productions.

The two articles of the treaty of 1832 relate to different subjects, Article VI applying specifically to customs duties on imports, while Article XI relates to matters of commerce and navigation, the word “commerce” being used in its broad sense of intercourse and—in the case of countries separated by the ocean as ours are—necessarily joined with “navigation.” The conditional favored-nation clause of Article XI, to which you advert as appearing to relieve Russia of all obligation to apply to the United States the same favors as France enjoys in [Page 1120] regard to customs duties, is not expressed in Article VI, which explicitly concerns such duties and can not by construction be extended to that article without merging it in Article XI and treating it as wholly redundant.

Your note presents no question of differential treatment concerning commerce and navigation between the two countries under Article XL Article VI provides that no higher or other duties shall be imposed on the importation into the United States of any article the produce or manufacture of Russia, and that no higher or other duties shall be imposed on the importation into the Empire of Russia of any article the produce or manufacture of the United States than are or shall be payable on the like article being the produce or manufacture of any other foreign country. Under the laws of the United States now in operation no higher or other duty is imposed on importations which are produced or manufactured in Russia than is imposed on importations produced or manufactured in any other foreign country, with the single exception of certain products of the Hawaiian Islands named in the treaty of commercial reciprocity concluded between the United States and Hawaii on the 30th day of January, 1875. Under this reciprocal arrangement specified articles, the production or manufacture of the Hawaiian Islands, are admitted into the United States free of duty, and in return the Hawaiian Government admits into those islands free of duty a large number of specified products and manufactures of the United States mentioned in Article II of the treaty.

It has been uniformly held by this Government that other countries with which we have treaties containing the most-favored-nation clause, can derive no benefit from this reciprocal commercial arrangement with Hawaii.

Aside from this special arrangement, Russian products have all the privileges under the tariff laws of the United States that are accorded to the products of any other country, and Russia enjoys the full benefit of Article VI of the treaty of 1832.

Your note further relates to consular charges for certifying the origin and value of goods sent from Russia to the United States. These charges were not prescribed by the act of October 1, 1890, but by the act of June 10, of that year, passed to prevent frauds to the detriment of the public revenue. The latter act prescribes the fee for a consular certificate to an invoice of merchandise exported to the United States as $2.50. This fee is chargeable whether the merchandise is subject to duty or free of duty, and whether it is entered under special provisions or otherwise. In this respect Russian products are treated as favorably as those of any other country.

Accept, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.