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CHILIAN TARIFF LAW.
REPORTS BY MINISTER LOGAN ON THE CHILIAN TARIFF AND ITS EFFECTS ON AMERICAN TRADE.
Availing myself of the services of the clerk allowed to me by the Department, I have caused to be translated certain documents relating to the customs service of Chili which must prove of considerable value to our Government. These documents, marked Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, are inclosed under cover of this dispatch. The following observations in connection therewith may be of interest to the Department:
The general tariff law of Chili is established by the Congress of the country. The system of valuation formerly in practice was fixed exclusively upon the ad valorem plan, the value being determined by the invoice price, to which was added the expense of transportation up to the time that the goods arrived in bond. This system was arbitrary and unsatisfactory, and many of the details as applied to special articles were left to the decision of subordinates. Under this system the export interests of the United States have suffered in competition with European manufactures as, while a piece of furniture-a table for example-made in the United States, which by reason of its lightness and other superior qualities ought to command the market, has been pushed out by the cheaper and clumsier manufactures of the European markets. Owing to the many imperfections of the established plan of valuation, it was resolved last year to adopt a new one, and the table which I in close, marked No. 2, is formed upon this plan.
In the first place, the tariff law of the republic fixes the general rate of duty at 25 per cent. upon the valuation of the article. To this general rate there are four exceptions, one class of enumerated articles paying 35 per cent., another class 15 per cent., another 4 per cent., while another class is free. A still further exception is made in the provision of a sort of war tax, to go into operation September 1, 1882, and to last for eighteen months from that date. It establishes an additional 10 per cent. upon those articles which pay 25 per cent. and 15 per cent.; that is to say, 10 per cent. upon the latter amounts.
The rates being thus established, the manner of making the appraisement is radically changed from the old system. I inclose in this a translated copy of Article IX of the customs laws, marked No. 1, which will give you an intelligible idea of the new plans.
Under this plan, as you will perceive by the translation, the President of the republic appoints a special commission in Valparaiso, composed of the superintendent of customs, the chief of appraisers, and a number of merchants of different nationalities, which commission fixes the table of valuations to be in force for one year from the date of its publication. Before the expiration of this term the President is to take the necessary steps either to establish entire new valuations, to correct the existing table in part, or to continue it in force, as may seem necessary and expedient to him. As you can readily see, there is great improvement in the system of classification.
This commission is to establish the table of valuations upon the basis
of their cost in the custom-houses. This they will do from expert knowledge concerning the prices of all articles in the country of production, adding additional expenses of freight, insurance, discharge, &c., into the custom-house. In a large and yearly-to-be-increased class, however, the valuation is not made directly upon the cost of the articles, but upon the gross weight-the peso bruto-of the package. This is the change in the system to which I wish to call your particular attention, and which I think is going to benefit a large class of American manufacturers.
About two months ago the first experiment under this new law was completed, and I inclose, under cover of this dispatch, marked No. 2, a translated copy of the new table of valuations established by the commission. Its translation has been a work of considerable labor, as you can readily perceive. If there are articles in the table untranslated in name it is because it has been impossible to learn the English name, if they have any.
I send you under a separate cover a printed copy of the tariff law, in the original text, from which the inclosed translation has been made. As before said, the important item in this change of system is the direct fixing of valuation upon the gross weight of the package, including the boxing or case, of course, it being the purpose ultimately to establish this principle upon every class of article, manufactured or otherwise.
HOW THE TARIFF AFFECTS AMERICAN MANUFACTURES.
While I do not call to mind any class of our manufacturers who will be damaged by this change, there are many who must be benefited by it beyond a doubt. Take for example the case of furniture. The American furniture is much lighter, more elegant in pattern, and better made than that of any of the European nations. The latter is noted for heaviness and ungraceful styles. Upon the basis of valuation by gross weight the American furniture will have great advantage in the item of duty.
This is equally true of all kinds of agricultural and mining machinery, portable engines, saw-mills, &c., in the manufacture of which the Americans so greatly excel.
Still another class of articles may be mentioned in the same connection, which is that of silver-plated ware. The American manufactures are justly celebrated for their beauty and general superiority. Under the old system of valuation, according to individual articles, the duties were much higher than will now be the case, when the box may hold the finest of articles, paying duties upon the basis of weight only.
Bearing these facts in mind our exporters ought to make a special study of making the case or boxing as light as possible consistently with strength and durability. I have, therefore, to recommend that the foregoing facts be given such publicity as may make them available to our exporting merchants.
In the formation of the commission which established the accompanying table of valuations no American was appointed, chiefly because, as it is said, there was no strictly American house in Valparaiso, at the time of appointment, to supply a representative. As it seems a very important matter that our people in the future should be represented
upon the commission, I have to suggest the especial instruction of the consul in Valparaiso to look hereafter to our interests in that direction. The table of valuations herein inclosed needs no further explanation, I think. A little attention to its details will enable it to be readily understood.
AMERICAN AND CHILIAN COMMERCE.
In connection with the subject of our commercial relations, I have thought it would interest you to see at a glance the trade movement of Chili with all the leading nations for the five years last past—that is, from 1878 to 1882 inclusive. I have therefore caused to be translated two tables, marked Nos. 3 and 4, showing the importation at the Valparaiso custom-house from twenty-four nations during the period named, and the exportations to the nations named for the period of four years, the year 1882 not being included. These tables are taken from the report of the Chilian minister of finance, presented to Congress at its opening in June last.
Their study will convey a great deal of useful information. It appears from the figures that Chili increased her purchases from the United States during 1882 more than $500,000 over those of 1878, being, roughly, at the rate of 33 per cent. It will further appear that the United States bought of Chili, during the year 1881, products amounting to more than five times the sum of the purchases of 1878. Further, it will appear that the exports of Chili to the United States during the year 1881 were nearly double the amount of the imports for the same year, showing a balance of trade largely against us.
The importations from Great Britain were more than doubled during the five years mentioned, while the exports to that country during the four years were more than two and one-half times as great.
The imports from the United States during the year 1882 only amounted to something over $2,000,000, while the imports from Great Britain during the same year footed up to more than $17,000,000. The exports to the United States during the last year given, 1881, only amounted to something over $3,000,000, while the exports to Great Britain during the same year amounted to the large sum of more than $43,000,000.
The study of these tables will develop other interesting facts. Before closing this dispatch I desire to communicate to you some further facts relating to the progress of this vigorous republic.
THE OUTLOOK FOR VALPARAISO.
Within a short time past a very fine mole or wharf has been built out into the Bay of Valparaiso, beside which the largest ships may lie during quiet weather, and, through means of improved machinery and appliances, load and discharge cargo with great facility, being a vast improvement upon the old system of performing the same work by launches. The Government has also completed a large number of very commodious and handsome storehouses. These works have been erected at a cost of about $4,000,000. For the use of a mole a charge of 3 per cent. upon the value of the merchandise is made, and for storage about 1 per cent. Goods may remain in storage for three years, with the privilege of an extension for three years longer. The articles in bond only pay duty when taken out.
With the view of making Valparaiso the great shipping center of the Southern Pacific, recent legislation has abolished every class of port
dues, including even light-house taxes. Further than this, all provisions for the use of ships are admitted free of duty. This legislation virtually makes Valparaiso a free port for goods in bond, while it must operate to draw all the shipping of the South Pacific to that port for provisioning, &c. By means of the secure Government warehouses, merchants in all localities along the coast, including those of adjoining States, can store goods in Valparaiso and draw for them when needed, a great desideratum with those so far from the commercial centers of the world.
Under the operation of these sagacious measures Valparaiso must become to the South Pacific what San Francisco is to the North Pacific.
I may close this dispatch with the statement that all duties are payable in silver dollars, rated at 38 pence, the rate of exchange, in Chilian currency, upon London being fixed by Government decree on the first day of every month. C. A. LOGAN.
UNITED STATES LEGATION,
Santiago, August 24, 1883.
CHAP. IX.-ON THE TABLE OF APPRAISEMENT.
[Inclosure No. 1.]
ART. 65. The table of appraisement shall be formed in the port of Valparaiso by a commission formed of the superintendent of customs, the chief inspector, and of a number of merchants of different nations appointed by the President of the Republic in every especial case. The presiding officer shall be the superintendent, and, in his absence, the chief inspector.
ART. 66. The table of appraisement shall continue without change for the term of one year, counting from the day which the President of the Republic shall designate on approving it; but it shall not come into effect till a month after its promulgation. ART. 67. Before the end of the year fixed in Art. 66, the President of the Republic shall take the necessary steps for the continuance of the same tariff, or for the partial or total reform that it may need.
ART. 68. The commission intrusted with the duty of forming the tariff shall make their estimate taking into consideration the price of the goods in bond.
ART. 69. Merchandise not specified in the tariff shall be valued by the appraisers, with reference to the last wholesale sales which have taken place in the custom-house. If this means of comparison be lacking, the goods shall be valued at the current market price for the same article, minus all duties; and if this also be wanting, the chief appraiser shall determine the value from the quality of the goods.
ART. 70. Complaints upon appraisements shall be laid before the superintendent of the respective custom-house, whose decision shall be final, after hearing two experts, one named by the custom-house and the other by the complaining party; and consulting with the chief of the board of appraisers in Valparaiso, and in other ports to the inspector who has made the appraisal.
ART. 71. No complaint shall be received after a period of twenty-four hours has elapsed after making the valuation, nor after the complaining party has removed the goods from the custom-house.
Empty, of straw, rush, or willow, with or without other material,
Beads of glass, gross weight..
Beads and bugles, gross weight.
Beads of metals, all forms, gross weight
Beads of glass, all forms, gross weight...
Blank, with or without ruled spaces or paging
Printed, covers of tortoise shell, mother of pearl, ivory or imitations,
gilded or plated, with or without filagree or mosaic of gold or silver. Dozen Boots and shoes:"
Children's, silk or cotton mixture, with less than 18 centimeters of sole.
Men's spatterdashes, without sole, leather, cloth or other material less
Children's shoes, all classes, less than 18 centimeters' length of sole..
* Chilian silver dollars. One Chilian silver dollar 76 cents American.
Meter 39.37 inches.