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then the duty shall be assessed on the joint weight of the inclosure and the article inclosed, at the rate of the duty on the inclosure (tare).
It is very evident that this regulation was directed against frauds on the revenue; that its aim was to prevent, for instance, the importation of a material taxed at 24 marks or more, by making it serve as an inclosure (tare) of an article, taxed at say 3 or 4 marks per 100 kilograms. If this does not appear from the wording of the regulation itself, it does appear from the reading of the law to which these regulations are simply executory.
But right here the desire of the customs officers to propitiate as much as possible the aims of the Government made itself felt. The regulation referred to was used to change the existing revenue law and materially to raise the rates of duty on many articles. Up to the year 1879 it had been entirely dormant; now it became at once a living law. The spirit was lost sight of—it was carried out according to the letter. No intention to discriminate against any particular country is apparent. Nothing but a desire to increase the revenues, and at the same time to protect home production and industries, in defiance, it is true, of existing laws, can fairly be charged. But in the latter direction findings of fact are made, and decisions based thereon which stagger credulity. Americanpreserved meat, instead of being assessed at 12 marks per 100 kilograms, is admitted as “fine iron ware,” because contained in tin boxes, and a duty of 24 marks per 100 kilograms; emery, which is free, if packed in tin boxes, is made to pay 24 marks, on the same ground; cheese, instead of 20 marks, if wrapped in tinfoil pays 24 marks, and there have been instances in which 200 marks were assessed, because, in the opinion of the custom-house officers, there was in the encasing an admixture of silver. Ink has been rated at 30 marks instead of 3 marks, because contained in what was declared to be “fine glassware.” Well inight a member of the Reichstag, commenting upon these absurdities, ask: “How else than in bottles was ink expected to be imported, when it was set down in the law at 3 marks per kilogram? Perhaps in sacks or blotting paper.” A merchant imported a number of empty champagne bottles, sealed and labeled, to make a display in his show. window. The bottles were assessed at the custom-bouse at 30 marks per 100 kilograms, as “fine glassware," probably because they were tastefully labeled.' Knit jackets and coats have been charged 300 marks, instead of 100 marks, because they seemed to the zealous custom-house officers to come under the head of “millinery goods.” I might continue the subject indefinitely. The German press is discussing these eccentricities with much interest. The comic papers have a regular column for "custom-house curiosa”-travestying the decisions of custom-house officials by the most grotesque inventions.
The absurdity of the proceeding has been brought to the attention of the Government by numerous German importers. The director of customs, Dr. Burchardt, has been called upon by members of the Reichstag to explain these anomalies. In answer to the questions addressed to this highest executive officer of the customs department, he has simply pointed to the regulation quoted.
It is clear that this construction of the regulation in question is utterly repugnant to the tariff law itself. The tariff law was enacted, as I have stated, by the Reichstag, agreed to by the Bundesrath, and signed and promulgated by the Emperor as the law of the land. The supplementary regulations, necessary to carry out the provisions of the tariff law, fall within the province of the Bundesrath. That these regulations must conform to and be consonant with the law, which they are intended to
supplement and carry out, is an elementary principle of jurisprudence; yet the director of customs claims to stand on legal ground, and refuses to countermand his orders or reverse his decisions, as long as the regu. lation referred to remains unrepealed by the Bundesrath. In this posi. tion he is enforced by the general tendency of the Government toward high rates of duty and protection.
Whether this condition of things will continue for any length of time or be changed by legal enactment or executive regulation, it is impossible to predict. There is no judicial tribunal in the country competent to decide such questions. They must be disposed of either by the Bundesrath itself changing or repealing the regulation or expounding its intent and proper application, or by legislative enactment. It is but fair, however, to state that the decisions of the custom authorities and the proceedings of the officers in pursuance thereof, although they affect very materially the trade in articles of American production, are not directed against the interests of any country in particular, but must be accounted for on the basis of the general policy of the Government herein explained.
I have endeavored to assign for these strange and anomalous proceedings the real and controlling motives, and contend that they furnish a complete and natural explanation thereof, and I respectfully submit this report to the Department of State, hoping to be excused if, in my desire to present a full view of the subject, I have touched upon matters of history with which the Department is more familiar tlau I am myself.
Consul General. UNITED STATES CONSULATE-GENERAL,
Frankfort-on-the-Main, January 25, 1882.
GERMAN DISCRIMINATION AGAINST AMERICAN MANUFACTURES.
REPORT BY CONSUL SCHOENLE, OF BARMEN.
The singular and vexatious classification of American corned beef under the head of “fine iron wares" in the official schedule of the rates of duties by the German Government, bas been oflicially upheld and defended as an old doctrine laid down in the instructions issued to the custom-house officers about ten years ago. It is thus to be construed, that in all cases where the inclosing cover is liable to higher duty than the goods themselves, the incasing turns up as a dutiable object. Old as the doctrine may be, the interpretation is certainly a new one, for corned beef proper has been subjected in Germany to the import duties for a number of years, and not the labeled tin boxes, as is now the practice. For ten years German custom-house officers appeared not to be possessed of the slightest idea of this abstruse interpretation, but all at once a new spirit came upon them, so to speak.
But upon which theory is the latest tariff discrimination based, and to what extent will American exports be affected by it? It is a well known fact that goods made of horn, and especially of buttalo horn, such as fine combs, have been extensively imported from the United States to Germany for a number of years. These goods by a process of rubbing and painting assune a speckled appearance resembling tortoiseshell, and had been classified in the new German tariff under the head of " fine wood wares, and also wares of vegetable and animal carved materials with the exception of tortoise shell," and accordingly subjected to a duty of 30 marks ($7.14) per 100 kilograms. Likewise pocket knives, whose handles are covered with thin bone or horn, which, through underlaid gold spangle, takes almost the appearance of tortoise-shell, had to pay up to this time the same rate of duty, namely, 30 marks per 100 kilograms.
In order, however, to single out these goods, a new phraseology has been added to a section of the official schedule of the rates of duties, viz:
Goods made wholly or partially of artificial tortoise shell, respectively, imitations of tortoise-shell.” In accordance with this the import duty on these spotted and checkered bone and horn wares has been raised to 200 marks ($47.60) per 100 kilograms.
This sudden increase of duty on these goods to an almost sevenfold amount appears to be the less warrantable as these roughly imitated component parts of bone and horn wares are put on the same level with the genuine polished tortoise shell, and as by this exceedingly high rate of duty their future importation will be barred to such an extent as to render it almost impossible. There is evidently method in these tariff sophistries, and this last one is apt to appear not only a fiscal eccen. tricity, but an unfriendly act, and an interested and intentional unfairness on the part of the German Government.
Consul. UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
Barmen, January 18, 1882.
DISCRIMINATING AGAINST AMERICAN PRODUCTS AND MANU
THE GERMAN TARIFF AND AMERICAN CANNED MEATS.
REPORT BY MR. EVERETT, SECRETARY OF LEGATION AT BERLIN.
In accordance with Department instruction of the 20th ultimo, received yesterday, I have the honor to state that, on inquiry of learling importers here, I find that the special custom house regulation, or, rath the construction of it, therein mentioned, classifying American camped beef as iron ware, has within the last ten days been suspended. There is always, however, the possibility of its being again applied, which greatly interferes with making contracts, besides the additional griev. ance, wbich is perhaps more objected to by importers than the duties themselves, that all tariff laws are retrospective, and thus every new regulation, especially if it-increases the existing duty, may be applied to all goods of the same cluss imported during the previous twelve months, whether sold or not. Nor are goods allowed to be exported out of bond before paying duties, as in England and America. Whether such retrospective application occurs when duties are diminished or taken off, I have not yet succeeded in positively ascertaining. The withdrawal of the special decision in question is probably mainly due to the fact that it is successfully evaded by the importation of the beef in cans without labels, which latter are sent separately by post and affixed subsequently to the payment of the duties, and also to the proposed stamping of the cans, as is done in the case of French canned pease.
A more onerous duty has, however, been under the same regulation put on American shredded codfish, which last year came in thin wooden boxes, such as Swedish matches are packed in. The duty on wood being higher than that on fish, this article of food was then taxed as wooden ware,” in the same defiance of natural history as when beef was classed as iron ware. This, however, has been evaded by packing the fish in pasteboard boxes. Sugar-cured hams being covered with linen cloth, are, by the same rule, classed as “ fine linen,” and subjected to a much heavier duty than pork, &c.
Euglish emery pow..er, which is one of the very cheapest articles of commerce, is, if it comes in tin canisters, as it usually does, taxed as iron ware, which effectively stops any extensive sale of it. A peculiar kind of liqueur from Russia, in bottles which are partly protected with a silken cover, is classed as “silk goods,” which are taxed higher than spirits.
Where the case containing the food does not give a sufficiently high duty, the expedient is resorted to of classifying the goods as “ fine table delicacies," which bear a very high duty. This is the case with our tinned tomatoes and potted meats, which are thereby restricted to a very small sale as a pure luxury, and yield little or no profit to the importers. A special instance of the consequences of this interpretation of the tariff laws deserves mention. An order was given by the army commissariat department to an American importer for a peculiar preparation of beet and vegetables mixed, and packed in tin cases of such a form that the contents could, on the march, be quickly heated and eaten from the cans as dishes, the latter being then thrown away. The order was satisfactorily filled, but as the custom house officials insisted upon classifying the article as “table delicacies," though knowing it was for the army, the importer was unable to make any profit on his contract, which was based on the price of “ beef,” and declined to furnish any more. A sim ilar proposal to furnish the German fortresses with canned food, to be stored away in case of siege, was abandoned for the same reason.
Every kind of representation and appeal has been made by importers to the treasury department here, but without avail, the reply being that domestic manufactures must be protected, and that American tariffs are equally oppressive. In spite of it, however, the German enterprise does not appear to supply the demand.
The obnoxious regulation is based on the idea expressed in the American tariff, where articles consisting in part of steel, silk, or spirits are taxed at the same rate as these latter; but the difference lies in the fact that in the present case the materials regulating the duty can not, by the most liberal construction, be taken to form a part of the foodproducts imported. Nor is this claimed by the German Government. The unreasonableness of the regulation is shown by its not being applicable when the tin cases have no labels on them. Bar iron might just as well be admitted duty free, because it had not fancy-colored labels, and its unjustness is evident from the fact that as all duties are here levied according to the weight of the goods, the tins are falsely taxed as so much iron, for the principal part of the weight is in the contents. Were the beet in the tin cans taxed on different scales there might be some appropriateness in the law.
I shall, in accordance with your instructions, keep myself informed in regard to these tariff regulations, and should I find that there is any probable advantage to be gained by an official appeal to the Govern ment, I shall at once make it and report the result to the Department.
I herewith inclose the ministerial decree in regard to canned beef,
by which it will be seen that only such coverings as are intended to be permanent are to be considered as dutiable, and that in these cases the material, whether of the case or its contents, which bears the highest value is to be taxed. It remains to be seen how this will be interpreted.
H. SIDNEY EVERETT,
Secretary of Legation. UNITED STATES LEGATION,
Berlin, February 11, 1882.
(Translation of the ministerial decree.)
Decree of the royal finance ministry concerning duties on meat put up in white iron boxes
with paper labels.
BERLIN, January 23, 1882. In response to your report of the 11th instant, I declare myself in accord with you in the view you express therein that upon meat imported from abroad in white iron boxes with paper labels as sole covering, in accordance with the provision in the first subdivision of instruction, Item IV of the official tariff, the rate of 12 marks per 100 kilograms is to be applied pursuant to No. 25, g. 1, of the tariff, and that therefore the covering referred to is not to affect the duty rate.
Whore, in the official list of articles, in the note of "étuis,” it is prescribed as to tare in accordance with the provisions of section 4 that étuis, cases and other coverings, which are intended to serve further as receptacles for the wares they contain, shall be subject to duty as a whole, taken together with the wares according to the rate of tariff due upon the higher taxed articles—be it the Etuis taken alone or its contents considered separately from the étuis—it is to be understood that under the other coverings only such coverings are intended as are according to their character and purpose to be reckoned as to étuis.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, To the Royal Provincial Tax Director, Mr. KRÜGER ALTONA.
H O L LAND.
IMPORT DUTIES OF HOLLAND.
TRANSMITTED BY CONSUL WINTER, OF ROTTERDAM.
25 Manufactures of farina, n. o. p. f
than two threads 61 Spirits 51 Spirits, Houtgeest 57 | Ginger ...
100 kilograms... 2 floring. Value.
5 100 kilograms. 4 tlorins. Value.
5 per cent. 100 kilograms. 7.50 floring. 100 kilograms.. 1.25 tloring. 100 kilograms. 0.75 tlorin, Cask..
3 tloring, Cask..
20 floring. Cask.
3 tloring. Value..
5 per cent. 100 bottles
0.50 tlorin. 100 jars
0.50 florin. 100 kilograms. 5 florins. 100 kilograms. 25 tloring. Value...
5 per cent.
5 per cent. Cask, and 50 per 3.50 florins.
cent alcohol. Liter
1.15 florins. 100 kilograms... 6 florins.