Mr. Ewing to Mr. Sherman.
Brussels , April 2, 1897 . (Received April 12.)
Sir: On receipt of your dispatch No. 228 of November 28, 1896, I addressed a letter to the minister for foreign affairs in order to be furnished with full information as to the taxes levied on vessels entering the Belgian ports, and expressed the desire to be informed also whether there exists any discrimination between American vessels and vessels of Belgian origin entering the said ports.
I have just received, in reply to my communication, a note which, it is claimed, contains complete information on the subject. A copy of this note I inclose herewith, together with a translation into English.[Page 39]
As will be seen, the regulations, orders, etc., referred to in the said note will be found in the pamphlets hereunto annexed.
In transmitting this note, which has been prepared by the minister of railroads, posts, and telegraphs (to whose office pertains the merchant marine) in collaboration with his colleague, the minister of finance, the minister of foreign affairs desires to state that the taxes or duties to be paid by vessels entering the Belgian ports represent in fact the value of services rendered only, and that in levying such duties no distinction is made between Belgian and American vessels. He therefore expresses the hope that our Government, considering this fact, will not hesitate to exempt from tonnage dues Belgian vessels entering American ports.
I have, etc.,