Mr. Tower to Mr. Sherman.
Vienna, February 8, 1898.
Sir: I have the honor to report to you for your information that the prohibitive measures recently adopted in Germany against the importation of American fruit have attracted public attention in Austria-Hungary, and are likely to be followed here by similar regulations upon the part of this Government. Fear of infection has operated with immediate effect upon the public mind; and not only do the farmers and fruit growers seek to escape what they imagine to be a threatening danger, but the merchants also, who believe that unless they can prevent the importation of suspected fruit into this market from abroad their own shipments will be barred from the markets of neighboring European countries, and the suspicion of contagion will be fastened upon them.
An article which appeared this morning in the semiofficial Fremden-Blatt, a translation of which is respectfully submitted herewith, declares that the situation demands that the Austro-Hungarian Government shall consider what steps are to be taken to protect the cultivation of fruit within the Empire, and at the same time to defend its own export trade, “which, in the event of a failure upon the part of the two Governments to agree upon this subject, might ultimately be threatened with restrictive measures in Germany. For there would be the danger that North [Page 33] America would turn the current of its fruit export trade into Germany partially, at least, through Austria Hungary, and this would not only lead to the overstocking of our home market with the American product, but would cause the erection of inspection stations on our frontier and thus make the exportation of our own fruit more difficult.”
The writer of this article adds that negotiations upon the subject are now taking place between the Government of Austria and that of Hungary, which, in view of the gravity of the situation, are likely to result in the adoption, within a very short time, by the dual Monarchy, of a definite policy as to American fruit; and there is every reason to expect, he continues, that Austria-Hungary will unite with Germany in a strict prohibition of the importation of life plants and windfalls, as also of packing materials; “a prohibition which is not only justified, but even made obligatory, by the convention of Berne, to which the United States of America declined to assent.”
The evident intention of the Austro-Hungarian Government at the present moment is to enter into an agreement with Germany under which all American fruit imported into Austro-Hungary, except through Germany itself, shall be subject to rigid inspection, and shall be refused admission if it fail to stand the tests applied to it. In the case of fruit imported into Austria-Hungary through Germany, however, the tests to which it shall have been submitted there shall be deemed sufficient.
I shall not fail to report to you punctually further developments which may take place in this connection.
I have, etc.,
United States Minister.