The Danish Minister (Wadsted) to the Secretary of State

No. 38

Sir: I have the honor to address you on the following subject.

The Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs has directed me to invite your attention to S. 16321 and H. R. 5379,2 known as the Eastman Bill, now pending respectively in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, and to the Proposed Report and Order of the United States Shipping Board Bureau of the Department of Commerce (formal docket No. 128),3 which have followed the investigation recently held by the Shipping Board Bureau, in connection with Section 19 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920.4

The Eastman Bill applies, in terms, to all water carriers of all flags, transporting passengers or cargo from any port of the United States to a foreign country, and from any foreign country to any port of the United States, with the single exception of “a cargo boat commonly called an ocean tramp carrying on any one voyage cargo supplied by one shipper only, under a single charter party or contract of affreightment”. (Sec. 203 (g).)

With this broad application, the Bill provides that the Interstate Commerce Commission may, upon the complaint of any competing carrier, (provided he is a party to an approved Conference agreement), “determine and prescribe such minimum rate, fare or charge … as in the Commission’s judgment the competitive situation and other surrounding circumstances and conditions may require”. (Sec. 224 (c).)

The Proposed Report of the United States Shipping Board Bureau recommends that the Department of Commerce issue an order putting into effect certain rules and regulations the essential provisions of which may in substance be stated as follows: [Page 469]

Every carrier by water (and not merely a common carrier) transporting cargo from American to foreign ports must file with the United States Shipping Board Bureau its “rates, charges, rules and regulations” governing such transportation, thirty days before loading.
The rates, etc. so filed must be kept open to public inspection at the carriers’ principal business office in the United States ports from which its vessels operate.
Any change in the rates must be made by new filing and the new rates become effective only thirty days after such new filing.
“Upon proper showing of an emergency or for other good cause shown” the Shipping Board Bureau is to have discretion to excuse any carrier or carriers from the thirty days requirement and may permit it to change its rates without notice to any one.
The foregoing regulations do not apply
To the transportation of “cargo loaded and carried in bulk without mark or count”. Such cargo may be transported by any carrier, whether or not a “tramp”, free from these regulations.
To “tramps” (as defined by the Report) i. e., “carriers transporting on any one voyage cargo supplied by a single shipper only, under a single charter party or contract of affreightment”. Such “tramps” may carry any kind of cargo, so long as they fall within the narrow definition laid down in the Report.

Under the date of February 12th, 1934, acting under instructions received from the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, I had the honor of addressing to you a note5 on the subject of the proposed General Shipping Code, which was then before the National Recovery Administration. For similar reasons, my Government is once more concerned over the serious consequences which would follow the enactment of the Eastman Bill or the issuance by the Department of Commerce of the Order recommended by the Shipping Board Bureau. In the view of my Government, both of these measures appear not to be in accordance with the rights secured by treaty and the generally recognized principles of international law, granting free access to ports for the purposes of international trade.

My Government fears that, if these measures should become effective, they would have serious consequences for Danish shipping now engaged in the American trade, and, acting upon the instructions of the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, I have the honor to request that, through your good offices, the attitude of the Danish Government may be brought to the early attention of the appropriate branches of the American Government, with a view that the Eastman Bill and the Proposed Order may be so worded as to eliminate foreign (Danish) vessels from their operation.

I avail myself [etc.]

Otto Wadsted
  1. Congressional Record, vol. 79, pt. 10, p. 10692.
  2. Ibid., pt. 2, p. 1501.
  3. Decisions of the United States Shipping Board (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1942), p. 470.
  4. 41 Stat. 988.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. i, p. 683.