Mr. Battiste to Mr. Hay.

No. 822.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of dispatch No. 432, of September 17 last, transmitting copy of letter of the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, requesting information relative to intention of the Haitian Government in regard to dues to be paid by American vessels carrying merchandise of French origin to Haiti, and also instructing me to invite the attention of this Government in this connection to article 10, of the treaty of November 3, 1864, between the United States and Haiti guaranteeing the most-favored-nation treatment to American shipping.

Herewith inclosed I beg to transmit the reply of this Government, with a translation, to my dispatch fulfilling such instructions.

I am, etc.,

Alexander Battiste, In charge.

Mr. St. Victor to Mr. Battisie.

Mr. Chargé d’Affaires: By your dispatch of the 27th of the month of September last you request me to inform you whether, in consequence of the new commercial agreement made between Haiti and France, the Government of the Republic has the intention of imposing on American vessels transporting to our ports merchandise of French origin higher tonnage dues than those paid by French vessels loaded with merchandise from the same province.

In reply to this communication I have the honor to announce to you that the minister plenipotentiary of Haiti at Washington will soon be charged to discuss the matter with the Department of State.

You kindly, in concluding, called my attention to Article X of the treaty of November 3, 1864, which provides that there shall not be collected on the tonnage or the cargo of vessels of the United States higher or other dues than those imposed on vessels of the most favored nation.

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In the first place, I would beg you to observe that the clearly determined reciprocity character of the new Haitian-French agreement withdraws it from the influence of the “most-favored-nation clause.” Then, to the provisions of Article X of the treaty of 1864, that you invoke, I would ask of you permission to oppose the very precise stipulations of Article II of the same diplomatic document, reading thus: “The Republic of Haiti and the United States of America desiring, etc., * * * have agreed that any favor, exemption, privilege, and immunity whatever, in matters of commerce or of navigation, which either of them has granted or may hereafter grant, to the citizens or subjects of any other government, nation, or state, shall extend, in identity of cases and circumstances, to the citizens of the other contracting party; gratuitously, if the concession in favor of that other government, nation, or state shall have been gratuitous, or in return for an equivalent compensation, if the concession shall have been conditional.”

Now, you are certainly not ignorant that if certain tariff concessions have been agreed in favor of French merchandise it was on the express condition that our principal products would profit of the lowest duties on their entrance in French ports.

Besides, do you think, Mr. Chargé d’Affaires, that notwithstanding all its kindly dispositions toward the Republic of Haiti, the Federal Government could agree to waive the restrictive clause set forth in the second paragraph of Article II and ever agree, without compensation, not to levy “on the importation into the United States of any article the growth, production, or manufacture of Haiti or her fisheries; and no higher or other duties shall be imposed on the importation into Haiti of any article the growth, produce, or manufacture of the United States or her fisheries than are or shall be payable on the like articles the growth, produce, or manufacture of any other foreign country or its fisheries,” with which the United States would be bound by a reciprocity treaty. (Article XIII of the treaty of 1864.)

I think it superfluous, in giving these considerations to the equitable appreciation of your legation, to insist on the provisions so clearly explicative, and take the occasion to renew to you, Mr. Chargé d’Affaires, the assurances of my very distinguished consideration.

B. St. Victor,
Secretary of State for Foreign Relations.