The Swedish Minister (Boström) to the Secretary of State
Sir: In the House of Representatives a bill (H. R. 8875) was introduced on February 4, 1932, to amend Section 8 of the Act of June 19, 1886,7 as amended by Section 2 of the Act of February 17, 1898,8 entitled “An Act to amend the laws relating to navigation”.[Page 922]
The proposed amendment reads as follows:
“Sec. 2. No foreign vessel shall transport passengers between ports or places in the United States or its possessions, now or hereafter embraced within the coastwise laws, either directly or by way of a foreign port, or for any part of such transportation, nor on a continuous voyage terminating at the port of departure or at any other port in the United States or its aforesaid possessions, notwithstanding that said vessel enters or touches any foreign port on such voyage, under a penalty of $200 for each passenger so transported and landed”.
The competent committee of the House has proposed the insertion of the word “near-by” before the words “foreign port” on page 2, line 1, and before the word “foreign” on page 2, line 5.
It is understood that the proposed legislation is intended to prevent any attempt to evade the exclusive right to coastwise trade, which in accordance with international law and practice is reserved for American shipping. But the text of the bill seems to give room for the interpretation that it would prevent a foreign ship from starting on a cruise from one American port to the West Indies and back to the port of departure, even if it does not touch at another American port and thus does not carry passengers between two or more American ports or places.
If this interpretation of the bill is correct, it will, if enacted, in the opinion of my Government extend the coastwise trade beyond the international definition of this term.
Upon instructions of my Government I, therefore, have the honour to express the hope that the bill, if enacted, may be so worded that it does not extend the coastwise trade beyond the meaning of this term according to international law.9
With renewed assurances [etc.]