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EXTRACT FROM THE ANNUAL REPORT OF CONSUL-GENERAL MERRITT, OF LONDON.
The discussion in Congress, pending the passage of the bill authorizing the appointment of a commission for the revision of the tariff, excited a good deal of interest in Greitt Britain and in other countries having commercial relations with the United States. This was clearly shown by means of a general discussion of the matter, at the time, in the newspaper press of these countries. The prevailing opinion in Great Britain, and that, too, supported by the present cabinet, is strongly in favor of free trade. There are, however, a considerable number of influential manufacturers who claim to be protectionists, and favor what they call "fair trade." Nevertheless, all parties appear to be in perfect accord as regards one thing, to wit, opposition to a protective tariff in the United States.
In the inatter of the proposed revision of the tarif laws, it will not, perhaps, be out of place for me to make the following suggestions:
1. Wbenever practicable, duties should be made simple and specific, and adjusted so as to discriminate in favor of American labor.
2. All articles, the duties upon which are comparatively small, should be put upon the free list.
3. Original works of art, antiques, curiosities, and, generally speaking, all collections illustrating the natural sciences should be admitted free of duty.
4. Still further, in the interests of a general educational development, whether in the matter of scliools, colleges, or private individuals, I recommend that, for their own use, all text books and maps, charts, models, &c., for scientific and professional needs, as also all scientific and professional apparatus and instruments, be placed upon the free list.
5. In so far as it is practicable, in the revision of the tariff laws, an especial end in view should le the protection of new, important, and yet struggling industries-industries which, once thoroughly rooted, would be able in a few years, unprotected, to biold their own against the world. To this end, all raw material entering into such struggling manufacturing industries should be adınitted free, or at least at a very low rate of duty. Specitic provision should be made determining in what condition the material or merchandise shall be in order to be classitied as raw material."
6. A simplification of the custoins laws is desirable so as to avoid, as much as possible, their misconstruction and consequent litigation, as also to relieve merchants from annoying delays in making entry of their goods. Proper invoices of merchandise on the free list, with bills of lading, when presented by the consignee, if the owner, or by any person to whom they may have been regularly transferred in the ordinary course of business, should be accepted by the customs authorities, and the delivery of the merchandise covered by such papers should be without cause of action as against the collector. Provision should be made so that, in case of the delivery of goods before their quantities or values have been ascertained and returned to the custom-house, in addition to duty, an adequate percentage upon the entered value shall be deposited until the final liquidation of the invoice.
7. The most equitable basis for tixing values upon merchandise sub. ject to ad valorem rates of duty would be the average wholesale price,
in bond, at the principal ports of entry in the United States; such valuations, in cases of disagreement, to be determined on appeal, by a board of general appraisers, to consist of five members, three to be located on the Atlantic seaboard, one on the Pacific, and one in the interior. The adoption of home valuations would do away with the necessity for in. vestigations as to the current market values of the merchandise in the country from whence it was imported. These market values, undergoing constant changes, are, other things equal, not the same in different countries, and, under the most favorable conditions, are ditticult for consular officers, special agents of the Treasury Department, or customhouse appraisers to determine. It is, moreover, especially difficult to ascertain the cominissions and other proper charges, which, under existing laws, are to be added to the market prices in order to establish dutiable values. Still further, by means of home valuation, the necessity for the production of consular authentications of invoices would be obviated.
8. Generally speaking, in the interest of the common weal, it is desir. able that the tariff be so adjusted and such regulations in connection therewith be adopted as shall cause thereafter, on the part of the Gov. ernment, the smallest possible amount of friction with and annoyance to the business community. The imposition of taxes upon the commercial business of the country will never be popular with those upon whom, in the first instance, the burden directly falls. It would, therefore, seem to be the part of wisdom for legislation to so simplify and adjust these taxes, and the rules and regulations enforcing their collection, as to insure the acquiesence is not the approval of the great mass of the people.
Every Government, administered so as to conserve the real well-being and permanent prosperity of its people as a whole, must specially foster and sustain, amongst its varied industries, agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial, those which are a prime necessity to the greatest num. ber, whenever it has become evident that private enterprise and capital are alone unable to establish and maintain them. This fostering and sustaining on the part of the Government must be done by means of protection against foreign competition on the one hand, or by means of direct support on the other.
Other things equal, the establishment of nearly every kind of manufacture in a new and growing country, ill provided with skilled labor, effective machinery, and lines of cheap transportation, involves, at the outset and thereafter, a large expenditure of money. A considerable period of time must therefore necessarily elapse before an adequate return for such outlay can be looked for; in other words, before any enterprise so established can become self-supporting. Nevertheless if, during the infancy of such enterprises, prices to the consumer have been enhanced, with their growth the raw hand will become the skilled laborer, motive power and machinery will have been rendered more effective, and the cheapest avenues for home and export sale and trade opened up, until finally, without aid or protection, these industries are permanently established with the world's market at their command. Home competition and rapid production naturally following, the cost of manu facture and price to the consumer gradually diminish, until the lowest limit is reached.
Still further, it must also be conceded that the incidental and indirect advantages to communities in which growing industries are located must be very great. They stimulate general business by providing employment for labor in itself unskilled; they furnish an incentive to
creative genius in the matter of mechanical and physical invention and discovery; they open up new thoroughfares; they create local markets for agricultural products; they form nuclei for large retail commercial transactions; they are sources of largely increased incomes to the vari. ous lines of local transportation of the country; in a word, they are the roots of a home civilization which, carefully tended, deepen and broaden
a until they permeate with their beneficent influence all classes of the community, and imbue them with the vigor aud richness of permanent, healthy, and intelligent life.
This principle of protecting struggling industries should, moreover, be applied particularly to our mercantile marine, which, allmittedly, on all bands, is in great need of encouragement and suport, not only on account of its importance in itself as regards our special commercial interests, but also in order that, in a general sense, we may, as a people, make ourselves independent of the varied policies, caprices, and jealousies of foreign nationalities.
EDWIN A. MERRITT,
Consul-General. UNITED STATES CONSULATE-GENERAL,
London, November 10, 1892.
THE TARIFF OF MAY 8, 1881, SHOWS OLD AND NEW TARIFFS, AND
ALSO CONVENTIONAL RATES.
I transmit herewith a “comparative statement of the old, the conventional, and the new tariff of France, especially in respect of articles which were prohibited or subjected to prohibitory duties in the old tariff, and also a comparative statement in respect of articles the duties on which have been sensibly increased by the new tariff.” These statements show
Ist. The duties imposed prior to May 8, 1881, upon goods or merchandise imported into France from countries having no treaties or conventions of commerce with France.
2d. The duties which were and which will be levied upon goods or merchandise imported from countries having treaties or couventions of coinmerce with France till the expiration of said treaties or conventions.
3d. The duties fixed by the new general tariff promulgated on the 8th of May, 1881.
The nations having treaties or conventions of commerce with France are England, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway, Holland, Portugal, Austria, Turkey, and Germany.
The following law respecting the extension of these treaties was promulgated on the 20th of July, 1881:
ONLY ARTICLE.—The Government is authorized to extend for three months from November 8. 1881, the treaties and conventions of commerce actualiy in free.
The present law agreed upon by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies shall be executed as a statute law.
It was understood that the French cabinet could only grant the extension fised by the above law in case commercial conventions were signed before that epoch, or if the pending negotiations gave reason to expect the early conclusion of new treaties.
In answer to the fourth question, I have to report the following general provisions of the law and the powers of the Government, as to providing revenue from imports and altering and modifying existing laws imposing duties on imports:
General provisions.- Customs duties, like all other duties or taxes, cannot be definitely fixed except by law. Their rates are fixed by spe. cial laws, and their collection is authorized every year by the tiscal law.
Powers of the Gorernment. The executive power may, in case of ur. gency, administratively and by simple decrees, alter or modify provisionally the rates of duties on imports, and prescribe certain measures regulating tlie collection of duties, viz:
1st. It may proliibit the entry of merchandise of foreign manufacture, or increase the rates of duty on its importation into France; in case of prohibition, however, if it can be proved that such merchandise was shipped prior to the promulgation of the decrees, it may be admitted after payment of the duties and according to the rates fixed before the prohibition.
2d. It may reduce the rates of duty imposed upon raw material used for manufacturing purposes.
3d. It may allow or prohibit the exportation of products of the soil or of the national industry, and fix the duties to be levied upon their exportation.
The provisions thus made must be presented in the form of a bill to the legislative bodies, before the end of their session if they are assembled, or at the next session if they have adjourned.
In derogation of these rules it is provided that the duties established upon sugars from French colonies or possessions cannot be moditied except by law; but an extra duty (sur taxe) on foreign sugars and the classification of the inferior grades of these sugars may be moditied by simple decree.
The duties upon cereals or other alimentary produce also cannot be altered except by law. The cer als or other alimentary produce referred to are wheat, spelt and masilin, rye, maize, barley, buckwheat, oats (grain and flour), rice and paddy, bran of all sorts of grain, bread and sea-biscuit, oatmeal, pearl or hulled grain, semoule, feculæ, sago and salex, potatoes, dry vegetables, chestnuts, alpia and millet, fodder and vetch.
The temporary admission of foreign products imported into France, to be manufactured or completed there, may be authorized, and in case of abuse may be in like mamer revoked by decree, provided that a bond shall be given for their re-exportation or for their return to the Government bonded warehouses, after an interval not exceeding six months if the same should be required. Decrees may likewise designate the customs offices which will be open to the transit of certain classes of goods imported or exported, modify the rates of tare, the methods for gaug. ing, the regulations for customs declarations, for packing goods, &c. Such decrees need not be submitted to the legislative body for its sanc. tion, but no local authority and no tribunal has the power of increasing or reducing the rates of duty prescribed by the tariff.
Consul-General. UNITED STATES CONSULATE-GENERAL,
Paris, France, September 14, 1881,
CUSTOMS TARIFFS OF FRANCE.
Comparative statement of the old, the conventional, and the nero tariff of France in respect to articles which were prohibited or subjected to prohibitory duties
in the old tariff.
2. The second column shows the duties which were and which will be levied upon merchandise imported from countries having treaties or conventions of commerce with
3. The third column shows the rates of duty tixed by the new general tarifi promulgated on the 8th of May, 1881.
S. Doc. 231, pt 5-7
MONEYS, WEIGHTS, AND MEASURES.
(Duties in francs and centimes.)
Denomination of articles.
Old general taritf.*
New general tariff.
Per 100 kilos.
ANIMAL PRODICE. 22 Wool, all kinds :
Per 100 kilos.
Per 100 kilos. Combed or carded
25. 00. Dyed
3. 00.. Hard
4.00. 46 Fish, preserved in oil, pickled, or otherwise prepared
31.20 and 49.92.
20. 80. Retined
5 per cent. ad valorem
2. 00. 80 Figs