Mr. Uhl to Mr. Olney.

No. 253.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 201, of the 4th ultimo, in regard to the alleged discrimination against American woods by railways in Germany under Government control, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy, with a translation, of a note just received from the foreign office, in which an explanation is given, which the German Government hopes will convince the Government of the United States that there is no differential treatment of woods of American origin.

A copy of this note has been sent to Mr. Carl Gartner, of Hamburg, and it will in part depend upon the character of the reply received from [Page 238] him in regard to it whether I shall take further action in the matter at once or whether I shall await instructions from the Department.

I also transmit a copy of my note, F. O. No. 153, of the 13th instant, on this subject, to which a further reply has been promised me, and have the honor to be, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 253.]

Mr. Uhl to Baron von Rotenhan.

F. O. 153.]

Referring to his note of the 1st ultimo, F. O. 128, on the subject of an alleged discrimination prejudicial to the commercial interests of the United States in the matter of freight tariffs on certain woods exported from the United States, imposed by the managements of the railroads under the control of the German governments, the undersigned, ambassador, etc., of the United States of America, has the honor to inform His Excellency Baron von Rotenhan, acting secretary of state for foreign affairs, that it has recently been brought to his knowledge that a decision favorable to the American interests has just been made by the “Kammer fur Handelssachen” in Cassel, and that in a suit brought by the firm M. B. Bodenheim, of that place, [against] the Railway “Fiscus,” it has been ordered that the excessive freight charged on American woods is to be returned. In two cases, however, in suits brought by Carl Gartner, of Hamburg, before the Oberlandesgericht at Karlsruhe, and the Amtsgericht at Erfurt, decisions (from which it is understood appeals have been taken) which it appears are grounded upon the difference in the botanical names of the woods in question have been rendered in favor of the railway authorities.

The undersigned avails himself, etc.,

Edwin F. Uhl.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 253.—Translation.]

Baron von Rotenhan to Mr. Uhl.

Referring to the notes of the 1st ultimo and the 13th instant (128 and 153), the undersigned has the honor to inform his excellency the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the United States of America, Mr. Edwin F. Uhl, that he at that time acquainted the appropriate home authorities with the contents of General Runyon’s note of the 9th of March, 1894, regarding the tariff rates placed on American woods on German state railways.

These authorities at that time had already considered, on account of complaints made by German importers of American woods, whether the German railway freight tariff of the state railways covering these points ought to be altered or applied differently than heretofore. These considerations, in which the contents of the aforesaid note were borne in mind, have, however, reached their termination in the conclusion to leave the wording and application of the tariff applied as heretofore. Such [Page 239] kinds of wood will, therefore, as has heretofore been the case, whenever they are not subject to cultivation for commercial purposes in middle Europe, as for instance certain kinds of American oak and pine, be compelled to pay the higher rate according to Special Tariff I. The undersigned can not, however, find that there is a differential treatment in this, as is alleged in the note of March 9, 1894. Not the fact that the wood grew and was cut in America caused its falling under the higher freight rate of Special Tariff I, but the fact that it belongs to a special species of that class (genera) which is not cultivated for commercial purposes in middle Europe. For the rest, the difference between certain kinds of middle European and American oak and pine which have been considered in the various tariffs is not only as stated of a purely botanical but also of a financial nature, as it is well known that the different kinds of American as well as other foreign wood which generally come into question and which pay a higher tariff are of a greater value than those growing in middle Europe. Moreover, it is just this ratio of value which at the time caused the classification of goods, for railway tariff purposes as for other reasons, which led to the creation of tariff “positions” for woods. Only on account of the difficulty of specifying the different kinds of valuable woods, and on account of the possibility that through continued introduction of new kinds this list might become incomplete, was it thought best that this general expression be chosen and maintained in this part of the tariff, which, it is true, might lead to the misconception that the different kinds of wood are treated differently, not on account of their species, but on account of the place from which they come.

The undersigned regrets that he can not under the circumstances give any assurance that there will be a change in the rates of tariff on the different kinds of American wood, but expresses the hope that the foregoing explanation will convince the Government of the United States that neither the existing tariff nor its execution carries with it a differential treatment of wood of American origin.

As nothing is known at this office regarding the decisions of the courts regarding tariff rates on American wood, as mentioned in the note of the 13th instant, the undersigned permits himself to reserve a further reply upon this point, after the necessary investigations have been made.

The undersigned avails himself, etc.,