No. 39.
Mr. Woxen to Mr. Bayard.

Sir: I have the honor, by, order of my Government, to call your attention to the following change recently made in Norway in the provisions regulating the levying of tonnage dues. The tonnage duty imposed on vessels carrying merchandise to or from Norway is, as fixed by the customs tariff, 80 öre per ton. The ninth paragraph, Schedule C of the customs tariff, provided that the duty should be paid only at the rate of 40 öre per ton for vessels arriving from or bound to any place on the shores of the Arctic Ocean or the White Sea. In the tariff promulgated on the 30th of June last, the ninth paragraph, Schedule C, was amended so as to read as follows: “The duty shall be paid only at the rate of 40 öre per ton when the vessel arrives from or is bound to Hammerfest, Vardo, or Vadso.”

The words in which this paragraph formerly was couched granted the benefit of the reduced duty to all vessels arriving from or bound to the ports of the Arctic Ocean and the White Sea. Though in fact the only navigation which shared in the reduction of the tonnage duty to 40 öre was that engaged in the insignificant coasting trade of these boreal regions, where from time immemorial no distinction of nationality ever was made, the Royal Government thought that the wording of the paragraph might appear to the Government of the United States as not being in conformity with the eighth article of the treaty of 1827 between the United Kingdoms and the United States. The Government of the United States might perhaps contend that any vessel arriving from a Russian port on the White Sea at a Norwegian port south of the Arctic region (which, it may be remarked in passing, never happened and probably in the future only will happen very rarely) would have paid only 40 öre per ton, while any vessel arriving from the United States at the same port would be liable to pay 80 öre. It is true that the hypothesis was not probable, but it was always possible.

Therefore the Royal Government deemed it necessary to cause the language of the paragraph to be changed in order to remove even the slightest appearance of nonconformity to the stipulations of the treaty of 1827. A motion to that effect was presented by the Royal Government to the Norwegian Storthing (Diet), which immediately approved it.

As you will perceive, the new wording of the paragraph grants the reduction of the tonnage duty to 40 öre per ton to all vessels arriving at or departing from Hammerfest, Vardo, or Vadso. The privilege of which any vessel arriving from a Russian Arctic port at a Norwegian port south of the Arctic Ocean (if this fact happened) might have [Page 1908] availed itself has been eliminated by the new wording, so that even in form the provisions in force in Norway are now, as they always have been in fact, in strict conformity with the treaty regulations.

The Royal Government entertains the hope that the United States Government will duly appreciate its solicitude for the careful observance of the treaty obligations, as shown by this change in the Norwegian tonnageduty regulations. Although the Royal Government was convinced that in fact by the provision abrogated there was not granted to other vessels any important advantage in which American vessels did not share (this provision only being profitable to the intercourse in the Arctic waters), the Government, as soon as it became aware that the terms of the paragraph above mentioned could appear to be in variance with the treaty of 1827, hastened, without awaiting any reclamation from the United States Government, to remove even the slightest appearance of a discrimination.

While bringing the foregoing to your knowledge, I am asked to invite your attention again to the conflict which, in the opinion of the Royal Government, exists between the eighth article of the treaty of 1827 and the act to remove certain burdens on the American merchant marine and encourage the American foreign carrying trade, and for other purposes, approved June 26, 1884, and which is set forth in several notes from this legation, the last being the note of Mr. de Reuterskiöld of March 9,1887. As this conflict, as you verbally stated to Mr. de Reuterskiöld, can only be settled by the interference of the lawmaking power, I am further asked, now that Congress will soon resume its labors, to solicit your cooperation to that effect, and to express the hope that you will kindly request the Chief Magistrate of the nation to be pleased, in his annual message, to advocate such legislative measures as may be deemed proper to settle the question.

Accept, sir, etc.,