Chester A. Arthur

Special Message

December 10, 1884

To the Senate of the United States:

I transmit herewith, for consideration by the Senate with a view to advising and consenting to its ratification, a convention for commercial reciprocity between the United States and Spain, providing for an intimate and favored exchange of products with the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, which convention was signed at Madrid on the 18th ultimo. The negotiations for this convention have been in progress since April last, in pursuance of the understanding reached by the two Governments on the 2d of January, 1884, for the improvement of commercial relations between the United States and the Spanish Antilies, by the eighth article of which both Governments engaged "to begin at once negotiations for a complete treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States of America and the said Provinces of Cuba and Puerto Rico." Although this clause was by common consent omitted from the substitutionary agreement of February 13, 1884 (now in force until replaced by this convention being carried into effect), the obligation to enter upon such a negotiation was deemed to continue. With the best desire manifest on both sides to reach a common accord, the negotiation has been necessarily protracted, owing to the complexity of the details to be incorporated in order that the convention might respond to the national policy of intercourse with the neighboring communities of the American system, which is outlined in my late annual message to the Congress in the following words:

The conditions of these treaties should be the free admission of such merchandise as this country does not produce, in return for the admission free, or under a favored scheme of duties, of our own products, the benefits of such exchange to apply only to goods carried under the flag of the parties to the contract; the removal on both sides from the vessels so privileged of all tonnage dues and national imposts, so that those vessels may ply unhindered between our ports and those of the other contracting parties, though without infringing on the reserved home coasting trade; the removal or reduction of burdens on the exported products of those countries coming within the benefits of the treaties, and the avoidance of the technical restrictions and penalties by which our intercourse with those countries is at present hampered.

A perusal of the convention now submitted will suffice to show how fully it carries out the policy of intercourse thus announced. I commend it to you in the confident expectation that it will receive your sanction.

It does not seem necessary to my present purpose to enter into detailed consideration of the many immediate and prospective advantages which will flow from this convention to our productions and our shipping interests.


Chester A. Arthur, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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