Mr. Le Ghait to Mr. Olney.
Washington, November 18, 1896.
Mr. Secretary of State: In accordance with instructions given me by my Government, I have the honor to address to your excellency a request for the purpose of obtaining that the system of favorable discrimination which is exercised in regard to tonnage dues in the United States ports to vessels from German and Dutch ports be extended to vessels arriving from the ports of Belgium.
My Government believes it has a right to this favorable discrimination, based upon reciprocity, for the following reasons:
- Tonnage dues were abolished in Belgium by royal decree of July 21, 1863, issued in execution of article 2 of the law of June 13 of the same year.
- A royal decree dated January 11, 1896, issued in execution of the law of July 12, 1895, exempted in a general way, from February 1, 1896, seagoing vessels from light-house dues.
- At the same time wharfage, port or harbor dues collected in Belgian ports, taxes which represent the price of services rendered and do not enter into the Government treasury, have been very considerably reduced. At present they nowhere exceed 50 centimes per measured ton.
In the hope that your excellency will kindly admit that under these conditions Belgium has a right to benefit by the exemption from tonnage dues accorded to vessels leaving the ports of Germany and the Netherlands, I beg you to accept, etc.,