The Chargé in the Netherlands (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

No. 325

Sir: With reference to the Department’s Instruction No. 87, of August 20th last, concerning the extension of the free importation privilege on a reciprocal basis to American and Dutch Consular Officers, I have the honor to report that I advised the Netherland Foreign Office in the sense of the above-mentioned instruction and have received a note in reply dated September 19th, a copy and translation of which are enclosed herewith.

This note extends the free importation privilege on a reciprocal basis and adds that in so doing the Dutch Government counts on the granting of exemption from excise taxes to Dutch Consular Officers in the United States. Specific information is also requested as to the viewpoint of the United States Government concerning the question of excise duties in general.

I have the honor, therefore, to request instructions in the premises.

Respectfully yours,

Hallett Johnson

The Netherlands Minister for Foreign Affairs (Beelaerts van Blokland) to the American Chargé (Johnson)

Economic Section
No. 29588

Mr. Chargé d’Affaires: In his note No. 105 of September 5th last, His Excellency Mr. Diekema was good enough to inform me that the [Page 776] Government of the United States of America has already taken the necessary steps in order that Netherland consular officers of Dutch nationality, established in the United States of America, who have no other business in the United States, may be exempt from import duties with respect to articles imported for their own use or for the use of their family during the period of their official residence.

In thanking you for this kind communication, I take the liberty of making the following observation:

In my letter of June 17th last,* Economic Section, in which I had the honor to inform His Excellency Mr. Diekema that the Government of the Queen accepted the proposal made by Your Government, I stated that this should be interpreted in such a way that, in conformity with article 19 of the 1924 Tariff Act (Bulletin of Laws No. 568), exemption would also be accorded from excise taxes and duty on gold and silver articles. I added that I was not aware whether such duties were also levied in the United States but that, if so, I was convinced that your Government would also accord the Netherland consular officers in question exemption from these duties. In view of the fact that in the aforementioned letter of Mr. Diekema mention is only made of the fact that “no excise tax is assessed on gold or silver imported for personal and family use” (see also enclosure), it seems that I have perhaps not expressed myself with sufficient clarity. For this reason I take the liberty of observing that the third paragraph of my above-mentioned letter of June 17th referred to two different duties, to wit, excise taxes in general and, besides these, a special tax called tax on gold and silver objects, neither of which are import duties.

However, my colleague the Minister of Finance, whom I did not delay acquainting with the above-mentioned Note from Mr. Diekema, and whom I consulted with regard to the above, has notified me and I have the honor to inform you that he has advised the competent Netherland authorities that objects imported into the. Netherlands, destined for consular officers of the United States of America, of American nationality, who have no other business in the Netherlands—for so far as these objects are for their own use or the use of their family—may enjoy freedom from import duties, statistical duty, excise taxes and the tax on gold and silver objects, and that consequently this franchise in the future is not restricted to the baggage (imported or forwarded afterwards) of these consular officers. In issuing these instructions, my colleague felt he should count on exemption from excise taxes in general being likewise granted to Netherland consular officers stationed in the United States of America.

[Page 777]

In bringing the foregoing to your attention, I would be grateful if you would kindly inform me of the viewpoint of Your Government regarding the question of excise duties in general to which reference is made above.

I seize this occasion [etc.]

For the Minister:
The Secretary General,
A. M. Snouck Hurgronje
  1. Legation’s despatch No. 205 of June 23rd. [Footnote in file translation.]