Mr. Tower to Mr. Sherman.

No. 41.]

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.,

Charlemagne Tower,
United States Minister.
[Inclosure in No. 41.—Translation.]

The German Government has, as we have already announced, taken measures against the introduction of the San Jose scale (Aspidiotus perniciosus). The importation of fresh plants and their windfalls, as well as their packing materials, have been entirely prohibited, whilst shipments of fresh fruit or of fresh fruit windfalls are to be examined and admission refused to them if they give evidence of the presence of this insect. It will not be long before Austria-Hungary will come to a decision upon this subject. Such a course is made necessary not only in order to protect our fruit growers but also to safeguard the interests of our fruit export trade, which, in default of an agreement between Austria-Hungary and Germany, would ultimately be threatened with repressive measures in the German Empire. For we should be in danger of having part, at least, of the American fruit trade with Germany turned into our Austro-Hungarian channels, which would not only lead to the overstocking of our market with the American product, but would cause Germany to erect examining stations on our frontier.

We understand that negotiations are now pending between the Government of Austria and that of Hungary with a view to establishing the policy of the two Governments in this matter; negotiations which, in view of the gravity of the situation, are likely to lead to an immediate result. Austria-Hungary imported during the year 1897, 8,163 meter centners (metric hundred kilograms) of American fruit from the United States (as against 1,821 in 1896); 13b from Canada; 501 from Hamburg; 1,221 (200) from Holland; and 903 (299) from Belgium. If we take the aggregate of all these imports, for those which come from other points than America are evidently to be considered as merely passing through them in transit, we find that we imported 10,923 meter centners in 1897.

We have every reason to expect that Austria will unite with Germany in the total exclusion of living plants and their windfalls and packing materials. We shall be able, all the more, to issue this decree because it is justified; it is even imposed upon us as a duty, by the convention of Berne, which the United States of America declined to assent to.

As to importation of fruit itself, it is expected that such shipments as may come to us through any country but Germany, which, after all, are quite inconsiderable, [Page 34] shall be subjected to a rigid examination, and shall be rejected if found unequal to the test. On the other hand, such fruit as shall already have been subjected to inspection in Germany will be admitted upon a certificate of such inspection; for, as is well known, an examining station for American fruit was established some time ago at Hamburg.