Mr. Harris to Mr. Hay.
Vienna, June 5, 1899.
Sir: I have the honor to advise you that this legation has received a note from the Count Szecsen, second chief of section of the foreign office, dated the 19th of May, 1899, stating the inability of the Austrian Government to comply with the request made by Mr. Herdliska in his note of the 15th of February, 1899, for the withdrawal of the decree exacting the same duty upon the salt in which meats are packed as upon the meat itself.
I beg further to advise you that, in reply to Count Szecsen’s note, and pursuant to your dispatch No. 9, of the 13th of April, 1899, I have addressed a note to the Count Goluchowski, Imperial and Royal minister of foreign affairs, conveying to the Austrian Government the instruction contained in your dispatch.
Upon the receipt of Count Szecsen’s note this legation sought to ascertain the precise facts touching the importation of bacon. We had an interview with an importer who states that he caused the Cudahy Packing Company to lodge its complaint of the 10th of January, 1899, with the Secretary of Agriculture.
From this source the information is:
- That for many years after the adoption of the present customs act of 1882 no charge of any kind was made on account of the box or the salt, but the bacon was removed and weighed net.
- Some few years since a great demand sprung up for imported hog products, including bacon, because a hog malady cut down the production in this country. This demand was supplied practically from America alone.
- The agricultural interests and others are opposed to this importation, and so it came about that the practice was changed, as stated in Count Szecsen’s note, so as to include the salt as bacon.
- Our informant says the practice with regard to bacon imported is now as follows: The entire package is weighed, 13 per cent of the gross weight is deducted, and the duty is computed on 87 per cent of the total weight. That, in fact, the box is about 17 per cent and the salt 6 per cent of the gross weight, making an overcharge of 10 per cent.
- This is declared to be oppressive, and amounts to from 1½ to 2 florins per 100 kilos (or 220 pounds). The salt, after being separated from the meat, is of no commercial value. It is sometimes used in the warehouse for a time in conserving other meats, but can not be sold and is cast away.
- Our informant (who declines the use of his name) states that the decrease of the importation into this country of bacon and other hog products is attributable in part to the oppressive manner in which the customs charges are enforced, and in part to an increased production in this country consequent upon the malady above mentioned being stamped out by this Government.
- Inclosed please find:
- A translation of Count Szecsen’s note of date May 19, 1899.
- A translation of paragraph 13 of the customs act.
- A copy of the note addressed by me to the foreign office on the 3d of June, 1899, transmitting your instruction of the 13th of April, 1899.
I have, etc.,