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very far distant future be resorted to, particularly as the States General, now in session, has already a bill providing for an increase in the duties on grain, wood (timber and lumber), and tea. DAVID ECKSTEIN,
UNITED STATES CONSULATE,
Amsterdam, October 17, 1883.
PETITION OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF HELMOND.
The Chamber of Commerce and Manufactures at Helmond respectfully submits to Your Majesty:
That they feel themselves compelled to point out to Your Majesty the pernicious effect which, in our opinion, the abolishment of the different duties in our colonies, and the low import duties in our country, in connection with the exorbitant-almost prohibitory-import duties in contiguous countries, have exercised and shall continue to exercise with increased force on the prosperity of our country.
That the advantages which were so sanguinely held forth to the nation on the introduction of the free-trade system have remained unfulfilled, while the prejudicial consequences have made themselves felt from the very beginning in a high degree, have now attained their climax, and menace our Dutch industry with complete ruin. That the great extension of our navigation anticipated by the advocates of freetrade system (which anticipations have for a great part conduced to the introduction of that system) has not been verified.
That, on the contrary, a comparison with the extension of the navigation of the protected Belgium furnishes results most discouraging to our country, as, among others, the following figures prove:
Tonnage of vessels arrived in port.
Amsterdam and Rotterdam: In 1846, 796,000 tons; in 1881, 2,570,000 tons.
That also the great prosperity of our trade, with which the advocates of the freetrade system had flattered themselves, has remained unrealized.
That after the introduction of that system, the formerly so flourishing sugar trade has entirely fallen off, the coffee and tobacco trade has declined, the linen-drapery and retail business languishes.
That the advantages of free trade promised to the consumer have not been obtained; the prices of daily necessaries, with exception of a few things of minor importance, have not diminished, but of some articles they have actually risen.
That the injurious influence which free trade (at least if not attended with reciprocity) must continue to exercise, especially on our industry, has made itself felt in a much higher degree than anybody could have imagined.
That soon after the introduction of the free-trade system whole branches of industry in our country have been entirely ruined.
That almost all branches of industry which hitherto have been able to maintain their standing are tending to total decay.
That now, even for many articles, in consequence of the foreign manufactures bringing their superabundant productions on the Dutch markets, all competition, even at home, becomes impossible for the Netherland manufacturer.
That the fatal consequences thereof have of late made themselves felt in an alarming manner is proved by the fact that important factories have been shut up and the wages in many others lowered.
That shortly the closing of many more factories and the abridgment of the working hours in others may be expected; that all measures have already been taken by manufacturers to keep themselves standing, such as economizing on the materials, increasing the powers of production, &c.
That whatever measure may be had recourse to, the unfortunate operative will at last experience the fatal consequence of free trade.
That, supposing the price of the daily necessaries to have diminished by free trade, which is not the case, the operative will only enjoy the benefit thereof when his finan
cial means are in a favorable proportion to the price of his requirements, whether they be high or low.
That, for instance, the operative who earns 15 cents per hour in a country where bread costs 12 cents, is better off than the operative who lives in a country where the bread costs only 10 cents, but who can earn 10 cents per hour.
That the diminution of wages must be regarded with regret.
That these wages are already too low (in Twente only 60 to 70 cents per day, and here in Helmond 90 to 100 cents), and the least diminution entails poverty, misery, and indigence.
That the lower ranks and the petty tradesmen experience in no small degree the injurious reaction thereof.
That also in Helmond the injurious and disturbing consequences of free trade are felt in a high degree.
That petitioners, to rescue the industry of Helmond, and concerned for the unhappy fate of the poor operative, feel themselves bound to do what they can to bring about a beneficial change in the present condition.
That they, to demonstrate how, even for the most important Helmond manufacturing products, export to the principal neighboring States is an impossibility, venture to submit the following figures to Your Majesty's notice:
In Germany an import duty is levied, per 100 kilograms, on
Cotton, unbleached, 80 marks; same, bleached. 100 marks; same, printed or dyed, 120 marks; ready-made clothes, 300 marks; threads, printed or dyed: To No. 17, 24 marks; from Nos. 17 to 45, 30 marks; from Nos. 45 to 60, 36 marks; from No. 79 and higher, 48 marks; butter and artificial butter, 20 marks; nails, 10 marks; cigars, 270 marks; tobacco, 180 marks.
In France import duties are levied, per 100 kilograms, on
Cottons, unbleached, 62 to 100 francs; same, bleached, 15 per cent higher; Turkey red, 122 to 162 francs; other colors, 92 to 130 francs; ready-made clothes, 10 per cent higher; threads, printed or dyed: Nos. 20 to 30, 55 francs; Turkey red, 30 francs and higher; butter, salted, 15 francs; nails, 8 francs; tobacco and cigars prohibited. That such high import duties are equal to being prohibitive; that several Helmond manufacturers, in consequence, no longer send their goods abroad, and are as prejudiced by overproduction as is the case elsewhere, which is thrown on our Dutch markets by foreign manufacturers; that if this state of things be not changed the Helmond industrial establishments will be obliged ere long to be closed or the working hours to be considerably abridged.
For which reasons they respectfully but urgently pray Your Majesty that it may please Your Majesty to bring in a bill to break with the system of free trade, and to enact
1st. That the tariffs of import duties on foreign manufactured articles may be brought in accordance with the tariffs of the respective countries; and
2d. That between Netherlands and her colonies a free and unencumbered commercial intercourse may obtain, and that as much as possible the same duties be levied in the colonies on foreign productions as such articles are subjected to in our Kingdom in Europe.
And your petitioners, &c.,
THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND MANUFACTURES.
HELMOND, September 12, 1883.
INCREASE OF BELGIAN IMPORT DUTIES.
REPORT BY CONSUL WILSON, OF BRUSSELS.
I have the honor to report that a bill has just been passed by the Senate and House of Representatives of this country, largely increasing the import duties on tobacco, coffee, cacao, vinegar, alcohol, and alcoholic spirits. In recommending the passage of this bill to the Chambers, the minister of finance gave as his motive the fact that the importers of this merchandise, knowing that the Government contemplated in the near future a very considerable increase of their entry charges, had stored an enormous quantity of them in the warehouses appropriated to
S. Doc. 231, pt 5-6
merchandise entered for consumption, with the object of thus escaping the increased duty when the new tariff law would come into force.
According to the statement laid before the Chambers by him, there was imported into the country, ostensibly for consumption, from the 1st of November, 1882, to the 31st January, 1883, 8,046,000 kilograms of leaf tobacco, and of coffee 14,924,000 kilograms, whilst during the preceding year the importations of tobacco only amounted to 2,242,000 kilograms, and of coffee to 5,310,000. The amount of these importations has been so largely in excess of the demand for consumption that the legislature, under the conviction that a fraud upon the revenue was intended by the importers, passed the bill almost without discussion, but, as they did not wish to resort to retrospective legislation, they enacted that it should take effect immediately after its passage, and inserted a provision that if the duties should be definitely modified so as to correspond to the provisional tariff of this law before the first day of August next, any excess imposed by it should be remitted to the importers. Notwithstanding the fact that this law is but provisional, it applies to some of our exportations, and its tariff provisions may become permanent; consequently I give below a translation of the five articles of which it is composed:
Provisional tariff bill on tobacco, coffee, cacao, whisky, and vinegar.
ARTICLE 1. The duties on coffee and tobacco shall be provisionally modified in the following manner:
ART. 2. The Government is authorized to provisionally modify the duties on cacao, alcohol, spirits, vinegar, and acetic acid, in the following manner:
On prepared cacao.
On brandies and whiskies of at least 50° strength when in barrels..per hectoliter.. 100 And for each degree above 50°
On vinegar and other liquids of acetic acid, and containing less than 8 per cent of pure acetic acid....
More than 8 per cent and less than 50 per cent
On crystallized acetic acid..
- per 100 kilos.. 100
ART. 3. If the duties on the above articles shall not be definitely modified according to law before the 1st of August, 1883, the duties now in force will again be applied. ART. 4. Any difference between the duties received in virtue of this act and those which will be imposed after August 1 will be returned to the parties concerned. ART. 5. This bill shall take effect the day after its publication.
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES,
Brussels, June 4, 1883.
THE BRITISH TARIFF.
REPORT BY CONSUL DOCKERY, OF Leeds.
One has become so used to hear custom-houses derided by Englishmen that one naturally concludes there is no such thing in England. Excepting the customs officers, I venture to assert there are not 300 people in England, however intelligent otherwise, who know anything about the amount of duties annually collected, the number of dutiable articles, or the per cent. of duty some of these articles pay. Their ignorance on this subject is truly remarkable. Perhaps they have been too much occupied with the task of correcting the shortcomings of other nations to pay any attention to their own failings. They pretend to be free traders at home; they claim they have a free breakfast table for the poor man; neither is true.
They affect great repugnance to any country that has a tariff of 50 or 100 per centum ad valorem on any article. In their own country on one article a duty of nearly two thousand per cent. is charged and collected; this article yields them their largest item of customs revenue, and it comes chiefly from the United States. Tobacco is the article. It is classed in their own tariff list as an article subject to "ordinary import duty," in contradistinction to a "countervailing duty," such, for instance, as the customs duty on spirits, and everything else subject to internalrevenue duty. On tobacco (which is in very general use by the laboring classes in England, and which is consequently of the cheapest kind), the duty ranges, according to moisture, from 84 to 92 cents per pound for the raw or unmanufactured article, and, if manufactured, it pays a duty of from $1.04 to $1.16 per pound. This is called (in England) a revenue duty. I can not see it in that light, as the manipulated article is distinctly charged, say, 20 cents per pound more than the raw article. As a matter of fact, it is so strongly protective that it prevents Americans from successfully competing with the English manufacturer in England, owing to their being handicapped with an additional 20 cents per pound on the manufactured article.
This is an enormous protection. A great part of the tobacco consumed in England is of an inferior quality, its original cost at the American shipping port having been not more than 6 cents per pound. It pays, if not manipulated, say a 92 cent revenue duty on entering England, and if made into smoking or plug tobacco it pays $1.16, or an additional 24 cents per pound duty. Here we have a revenue duty of, say, fifteen hundred and thirty per cent., and a further strictly protective duty of four hundred per cent., making in all a duty of nineteen hundred and thirty per cent.
Cigars pay a duty of $1.32 per pound. I do not give undue prominence to this one article, since it is one from which the large amount of fortythree million dollars of duty were collected last year.
Another item, tea, pays 12 cents per pound duty. This is not a protective duty, but it does not allow the free breakfast table, yet at this rate some of it pays as much as 100 per cent., and the total duty collected from this source last year amounted to eighteen millions of dollars. It is more generally consumed in England than in any other civilized
country, and is a requisite of the breakfast table, yet we are told there is a free breakfast table.
Coffee, another article people use at the "breakfast table," pays a duty of 3 cents per pound, but if "ground, prepared, or in any way manufactured," it must pay 4 cents per pound, a protection to coffeemillers of 30 odd per cent of duty.
Cocoa, in the raw state, pays 2 cents per pound, but if "ground, prepared, or in any way manufactured." it pays 4 cents per pound; in other words, the duty on the manufactured article is double that on the raw article.
The foregoing are some of the duties in force in England, and they are sufficient to show that this is not a free-trade country in the full sense of the term. Comparatively to population, more revenue is annually collected at English custom-houses than at those of any other country in the world, excepting the United States, the total amount collected during the past year having reached $96,000,000, while the United States, with nearly twice as large a population, collected $186,000,000 in the same period. Germany, with a much larger popu lation than England, collected from customs $78,000,000.
The chief items of receipt under the head of customs duties for England during the past year were from—
The following is a list of dutiable articles, viz: Alcohol, ale, beer, brandy, playing cards, chicory, chloroform, chloral hydrate, cigars and cigarettes, cocoa, coffee, collodion, cologne water, cordials, currants, in essence of spruce, ether, iodide of ethyl, figs, fig cake, preserved fruit (in spirits), naphtha, pickles, gold and silver plate, plums and prunes, raisins, soap, gin, rum, whisky, all other spirits, wine, and varnish; and, besides these, there are about ninety or one hundred articles, chiefly from America, and principally patent medicines, which are held to be liable to duty at the rate of $3.36 per gallon.
There are in Great Britain and Ireland no less than 133 customs districts, each with a collector or superintendent and subordinates. London alone the number of customs officers exceeds 1,550, while in Liverpool about 650 are employed, aggregating for the two ports 2,200 officials. These facts and figures do not look well as regards the muchvaunted idea of a free and untrammeled trade! However, they prove conclusively the general idea I have advanced, that there has been only the semblance of free trade in England all the while that the advocates of free trade were so assiduously endeavoring to persuade other nations to adopt their theory, and as practice and theory have not been in accord here, they should not be surprised if their motives are impugned to the extent of asserting that sharp practice was resorted to in order to establish an illimitable monopoly.
Now, I beg to submit a statement of the revenue and expenditure of the British and American Governments, respectively, for the year 187980. For this purpose I take the pound sterling to represent five dollars,