The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Brazil

No. 628

Sir: There is enclosed a copy of a letter from Moore–McCormack Lines, Inc., together with its enclosures82 requesting our assistance in bringing about the elimination of preferences being accorded Brazilian vessels in obtaining berths at Rio de Janeiro.

The Department is fully aware of the present congested situation at the port of Rio de Janeiro and realizes that under these circumstances it may be necessary at times to give preference to ships carrying certain cargoes. It is the view of the Department, however, that such priority should be given strictly on the basis of the cargoes carried without preference to the nationality of the ships, and that any regulation which gives Brazilian ships absolute priority over ships of other nationality is a discrimination and objectionable to this Government.

With reference to Section 17 of the act of June 19, 188683 referred to in the attached correspondence, it is the view of the Department that its use to retaliate against foreign shipping would be most undesirable and would only lead to further discriminations and retaliations. The Department is not prepared at present to state what action might properly be taken under the provisions of the law referred to. It is hoped, however, that satisfactory arrangements can be made which would render unnecessary any possible retaliatory action.

It is requested that the Embassy investigate this matter and, unless it perceives objection, take steps with the appropriate Brazilian authorities with a view to having preference for Brazilian vessels removed. In discussing this matter with the Brazilian Government it can be stated that the Department knows no ports in the United States which grant similar preferences for American vessels.

Very truly yours,

For the Acting Secretary of State:
W. A. Radius
  1. None printed.
  2. 24 Stat. 79; this section authorized the President to exclude ships of a foreign country from those privileges in American ports which were denied American vessels in the ports of that country. Masters of ships who failed to be guided by the law were liable to arrest and trial and their ships to seizure.