The Minister in Egypt (Jardine) to the Secretary of State

No. 568

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that on September 13, 1932, I addressed a note to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs requesting that the high dues and charges now prevailing in the port of Alexandria be called to the attention of the Ministry of Finance with a view to consideration of their reduction by the latter. A copy of the note in question is enclosed herewith.

This action was requested by Mr. J. L. McCormack, District Manager of the Export Steamship Corporation, in a letter dated July [Page 656] 26, 1932, a copy of which is enclosed together with a translation of a memorandum transmitted with his letter57 which gives the present status and the background of this question.

My Greek, French, German and Italian colleagues have sent similar notes to the Foreign Office. I understand that the Residency will likewise take action although I am unable to state in exactly what form.

As the matter is of particular interest to two American steamship lines—the Export Line whose vessels call at Alexandria once each week, and the Dollar Line whose vessels call once every fortnight—I venture to hope that the Department will approve of my action.

Respectfully yours,

W. M. Jardine

The American Legation to the Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs

No. 312

The Legation of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Royal Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and has the honor to draw the attention of the Royal Ministry to the conditions affecting the steamship companies serving Alexandria which are the result of the high port dues and charges applicable to commercial vessels.

The scale of these dues and charges was established in 1877. At that time the average tonnage of ships which touched at the port of Alexandria was not greater than 2,000 tons, while at the present time the average is 5,000 tons and many ships carrying mail which have weekly services exceed 7,000 tons.

In 1929 a reduction of 40% in the light-house dues occurred, but for a ship of 5,000 tons this decrease represents a reduction of the order of six pounds only, whereas the amount of the charges payable for a vessel of this tonnage amounts to more than 220 pounds.

Moreover, although since 1920 the port dues have been reduced by 50% for tourist ships, this relief applies only to a small minority of the vessels calling at Alexandria, practically all of which continue to pay the charges established in 1877.

It thus appears that the dues levied upon shipping no longer correspond to the present situation and call for a readjustment. In point of fact, these charges are at the present time higher than in all principal Mediterranean and European ports and, in consequence, constitute a serious handicap to shipowners whose vessels use Alexandria [Page 657] and particularly to steamship companies whose vessels give regular services and which make frequent, in many cases weekly, calls.

Consequently the Legation of the United States of America would be grateful if the Ministry for Foreign Affairs would be good enough to explain this situation to the Ministry of Finance—a situation which has already been the subject of correspondence exchanged between the President of the Chambre Internationale de Navigation d’Alexandrie and that Department—requesting it to examine the possibility of a reduction in shipping charges in the port of Alexandria.

It should further be observed that measures taken in this sense, while permitting the shipping companies to continue regular services to Alexandria under normal conditions, in the end would be favorable to the city of Alexandria, which would thus avoid an eventual diminution in its maritime traffic to the benefit of other Near Eastern ports which are infinitely cheaper.

Finally, and without prejudice to a general reduction in the present dues, it would appear just to adopt, after the example of numerous other ports, a reduced tariff for vessels which regularly touch at Alexandria and which consequently contribute to the economic development of Egypt in a very special manner.

In asking the Royal Ministry to be good enough to draw the attention of the Ministry of Finance in particular to this last point, the Legation of the United States of America, etc.

  1. Neither printed.