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TRADE AND COMMERCE WITH FOREIGN NATIONS-FOREIGN
FORTY-EIGHTH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.
May 14, 1884.
[Senate Report No. 551.]
Mr. MILLER, of California, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, submitted the following report:
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred the resolution of the Senate, adopted January 22, 1884, which is as follows
Resolved, That the Committee on Foreign Relations be instructed to inquire into and report to the Senate such legislation as shall protect our interests against those Governments which have prohibited or restrained the importation of meats from the United States; and the committee is further instructed to report what discriminations are made against exports from the United States by the tariff laws of the principal countries of Europe and America, especially France, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil, by reason of commercial or other special treaties or agreements with more favored nations, and to report the causes which led to such discriminations, the efforts, if any, that have been made to remove them, and what legislation, if any, is necessary to place the United States on an equal footing with the most favored nations. This investigation is not, however, to delay the action of the committee on the first branch of this resolution
having made report on the 19th of March last (Senate Report No. 345, Forty-eighth Congress) upon the first clause of the foregoing resolution, beg leave to submit now the following report upon the second branch of the same:
The documents hereto appended, and made a part hereof, which have been furnished the committee by the Secretary of State, with his letter of transmittal, under date of March 4, 1884, which are the tariff laws, import and export of the principal countries of the world, and comments thereon by various officers of the United States, contain much, it is believed, which will serve to answer the several questions propounded by the above resolution.
In answer to the question embraced in the resolution as to "what discriminations are made against exports from the United States by the tariff laws of the principal countries of Europe," &c., it may be stated, generally, that none of the tariffs of the countries of Europe or America contain specific discriminations against merchandise imported from the United States, but the discriminations found in the tariff systems of some of the countries whose laws are hereto appended, particularly France and Austria-Hungary, against merchandise imported from nontreaty countries, necessarily result in placing importations from the United States at serious disadvantage. For example, on account of the great difference between the rates of duty imposed upon American goods by the general tariff, and the rates imposed upon like goods imported from treaty countries under the conventional tariff, much of our merchandise cannot reach the French markets, except through those coun. tries having commercial treaties with France, such as Great Britain,
Italy, &c. In illustration, it may be stated that alcohol, if imported directly from the United States into France, pays a duty of 30 francs per hectolitre, while the same article if imported from England is subject to 15 francs per hectolitre. Cotton tissues imported from the United States into France pay nearly three times the duty which the same article pays if imported from Great Britain, and so of other articles.
In the Austro-Hungarian tariff is found the following provision: Goods coming from countries which treat Austrian and Hungarian vessels or goods of Austrian and Hungarian origin with less favor than the vessels or goods of other nations are subject on entering to an additional payment of 30 per cent, and if the tariff declares them to be free, then a special ad valorem duty will be levied upon them.
This provision is far-reaching and announces a principle which seems to go farther than that which underlies the French discriminations in favor of the countries whose importations come within the conventional tariffs. By this provision Austria-Hungary makes declaration of the right to inquire not only whether there is a treaty with the country of origin of the goods, but also whether, even if there is a treaty, any other country enjoys any favor which is not granted by an existing treaty to Austria-Hungary. If this principle be admitted, a nation without commercial treaties, or which has unsatisfactory commercial relations with other countries, may, by the simple expedient which Austria-Hungary has adopted, impose discriminations against the commerce of those nations who have not or do not place her upon an equal footing of the most favored nations.
Our Government has never regarded a reciprocity treaty, or a treaty which accords reciprocal advantages in the matter of tariff rates to the parties making the treaty under peculiar conditions, as any discrimination against other nations in respect of whom such conditions do not exist, and who may not enter into like arrangements. It has been held uniformly by our Government that the most favored nation clause does not apply to such arrangements. The right to purchase by just reciprocity from other nations privileges equivalent to those we give has been asserted and thus far successfully maintained without admitting to the same privileges all those nations with whom we have treaties containing the most favored nation clause.
On the other hand, where other nations have among themselves reciprocal commercial arrangements, the United States cannot claim to share in the benefits or privileges of such arrangements, which are acquired only by purchase or reciprocal compensations. It would seem that the only method by which the United States may consistently or practically be made to share in the benefits of the conventional tariff's of other countries is by diplomatic negotiation, and it is in such case simply a question of expediency or commercial policy. A resort to discrimination against the countries who apply general tariff rates to importations from ths United States and a conventional tariff to the merchandise of countries who by reciprocal commercial arrangements have purchased the benefits of the lower rate of the conventional tariff cannot be justified. In view of the conditions under which the discriminations by the several countries who have conventional tariffs against importations from the United States are made, it is not easy to conceive of any legislation that Congress can enact in respect to the same which would prove beneficial to the United States.
The case of the prohibition against the importation of American salted meats into Germany and France is different from the class of discriminations above referred to. In that case the discrimination is not in a