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

The Minister for the Netherlands presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and, acting on instructions from the Netherland [Page 921]Government, begs leave to respectfully draw Mr. Stimson’s attention to the bill H. R. 8874, at present before the House of Representatives which intends to give the United States Shipping Board the power to declare any foreign vessel, which in the opinion of the Board produces unwarranted and excessive competition with United States vessels, a fighting ship within the meaning of the “Shipping Act 1916”4 as amended by section 20 of the “Merchant Marine Act 1920”;5 the result of such declaration being that the foreign ship in question will be refused clearance by the United States Authorities and thus forced to cease the voyages objected to by the Shipping Board.

Enactment of the bill in question would, in the opinion of the Netherland Government, constitute a serious menace to the freedom of international shipping, threatening, as it does, the existence of every possible shipping line or vessel which transports goods and passengers between this country and foreign ports in competition with American ships.

The absolute power which the bill is designed to confer on the Shipping Board would entitle this body to even prevent a foreign vessel from carrying cargo and passengers to the ports of the country to which the ship belongs without the possibility of an appeal to a higher Authority.

If the principle underlying the bill in question were adopted by all other nations, the freedom of international shipping would cease to exist and the Netherland Government therefore trusts, that the United States Government will not enact a measure which may so seriously affect the peaceful development of free international shipping, without which fruitful economic relations between the nations of the world would be impossible.6

  1. 39 Stat. 728.
  2. 41 Stat 996.
  3. In a supplementary note of March 2, the Netherlands Minister stated that his objections to H.R. 8874 applied “in equal measure” to S.3501 (811.801/486).