The Netherlands Minister (Van Royen) to the Secretary of State

No. 536

The Netherland Minister presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and, acting upon instructions from the Netherland Government, has the honour to respectfully draw Mr. Stimson’s attention to a bill, H. R. 8875, which by its intended extension of [Page 920]the scope of the term Coastwise Trade would, if enacted, forcibly terminate a branch of trade in which a Netherland shipping Company has been engaged for years, videlicet the carrying of passengers on round trip cruises from New York to various non-American ports in the West Indies (the Netherland ports of Curaçao and Paramaribo included) and from there back to the point of departure in the United States.

The Netherland Government does not think of trying to deny that a Government is fully entitled to reserve the coastwise trade to its own national ships but the universally accepted meaning of Coastwise Trade is transportation from one port to another in the same country.

Now the Netherland ships in question do not convey passengers from one United States port to another, the cruises only having non-American ports of call, and it would therefore seem contrary to the well established rules of international law to consider the trips in question as constituting coastal trade which should be reserved for American ships only.

The proposal of law under consideration even goes so far as to make it unlawful for a Netherland vessel to take passengers on a trip from New York to the Netherland West Indies and back and my Government fails to see how voyages of this kind could possibly be termed Coastwise Trade.

Mr. van Roijen begs leave to point out further that pleasure voyages like those aimed at by bill H. R. 8875 were started long before any American vessels engaged in this particular branch of shipping and it cannot be contended therefore that Netherland ships invaded a field which theretofore had been the exclusive domain of United States vessels.

The Netherland Minister trusts that the United States Government will give earnest consideration to the above made representations and that enactment of the measure in question with its disastrous effect on Netherland shipping and international shipping in general will be averted.3

  1. In a supplementary note of March 2, the Netherlands Minister stated that his objections to H.R.8875 applied “in equal measure” to S.3502 (811.801/485).