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A clause in the general deficiency bill of July 19, 1897, authorized the Department of State to print a compilation of the tariffs of foreign countries, and on July 29, 1897, a circular signed by the Acting Secretary of State, Mr. Adee, was mailed to the diplomatic representatives of the United States in foreign countries and the consular officers resident in countries where there were no diplomatic representatives, instructing them to obtain, with the least possible delay, copies of the tariffs of the several countries, customs regulations, and bounty legislation relating to the export of domestic products and transmit them to the Department, as printed in the original official publications, with accurate translations where the matter was printed in foreign languages. The earlier publication of these tariffs has been impracticable - because of the labor entailed upon diplomatic and consular officers in translating the tariffs and customs regulations and reducing weights and moneys to United States equivalents, and the omission of some officers to transmit to the Department tariffs in either their original or translated forms, entailing the necessity of supplying such deficiencies. For this purpose tariff's published by the International Tariffs Customs Bureau of Brussels and old tariffs published by the Bureau of the American Republics and by the Department of State were used as bases, all subsequent changes being incorporated therein from such official data as could be obtained. All foreign moneys have been reduced to United States equivalents, except in case of currencies so fluctuating that such reductions would be of no lasting value.
Instead of issuing these tariffs in one volume, as was done in the case of the publication by the Department in 1892 (Tariffs of Foreign Countries, Special Consular Reports, vol. 7), it has been considered more convenient and useful to issue them in three parts, viz: 1, Europe; 2, America; 3, Asia, Africa, Australasia, and Polynesia.
In most cases an alphabetical index, by articles and tariff numbers, follows the tariff schedules. Where such is not the case, classes of goods with tariff numbers covering the same are given, the aim being to enable the importer and exporter to find the information sought with the least possible delay or trouble.
It need hardly be stated that owing to continual tariff and customs changes in the greater number of the countries this publication is only to be relied upon to date, but if those interested will watch the monthly consular reports as they are issued they will be enabled to keep fully posted in regard to this important and intricate subject. The United States ministers and consuls are instructed to immediately report all tariff and customs changes within their respective jurisdictions, and such changes are at once published upon their receipt at the Department. BUREAU OF FOREIGN COMMERCE,
December 1, 1899.
VALUES OF FOREIGN COINS AND CURRENCIES.1
The following statements show the valuation of foreign coins, as given by the Director of the United States Mint and published by the Secretary of the Treasury, in compliance with the first section of the act of March 3, 1873, viz: "That the value of foreign coins, as expressed in the money of account of the United States, shall be that of the pure metal of such coin of standard value," and that "the value of the standard coins in circulation of the various nations of the world shall be estimated annually by the Director of the Mint, and be proclaimed on the 1st day of January by the Secretary of the Treasury."
In compliance with the foregoing provisions of law, annual statements were issued by the Treasury Department, beginning with that issued on January 1, 1874, and ending with that issued on January 1, 1890. Since that date, in compliance with the act of October 1, 1890, these valuation statements have been issued quarterly, beginning with the statement issued on January 1, 1891.
The fact that the market exchange value of foreign coins differs in many instances from that given by the United States Treasury has been repeatedly called to the attention of the Bureau of Foreign Commerce. An explanation of the basis of the quarterly valuations was asked from the United States Director of the Mint, and under date of February 7, 1898, Mr. R. E. Preston made the following statement: "When a country has the single gold standard, the value of its standard coins is estimated to be that of the number of grains fine of gold in them, 480 grains being reckoned equivalent to $20.67 in United States gold, and a smaller number of grains in proportion. When a country has the double standard, but keeps its full legaltender silver coins at par with gold, the coins of both gold and silver are calculated on the basis of the gold value.
"The value of the standard coins of countries with the single silver standard is calculated to be that of the average market value of the pure metal they contained during the three months preceding the date of the proclamation of their value in United States gold by the Secretary of the Treasury. The value of the gold coins of silver-standard countries is calculated at that of the pure gold they contain, just as if they had the single gold standard.
"These valuations are used in estimating the values of all foreign merchandise exported to the United States. The value of the Indian rupee, although calculated according to law at the value of the pure metal contained therein, has a commercial value above the value of the silver bullion; consequently the value for customs purposes is determined in each case by the consular certificates attached to the invoice of exports from that country to the United States."
The following statements, running from January 1, 1874, to January 1, 1899, have been prepared to assist in computing the values, in American money, of the trade, prices, values, wages, etc., of and in foreign countries, as given in consular and other reports. The series of years are given, so that computations may be made for each year in the proper money values of such year. In hurried computations, the reductions of foreign currencies into American currency, no matter for how many years, are too often made on the bases of latest valuations. When it is taken into account that the ruble of Russia, for instance, fluctuated from 77.17 cents in 1874 to 37.4 cents in April, 1897, such computations are wholly misleading. All computations of values, trade, wages, prices, etc., of and in the "fluctuating-currency countries" should be made in the values of their currencies in each year up to and including 1890, and in the quarterly valuations thereafter.
To meet typographical requirements, the quotations for the years 1876, 1877, 1879, 1881, 1882, and 1891-1895 are omitted, these years being selected as showing the least fluctuations when compared with years immediately preceding and following.
To save unnecessary repetition, the estimates of valuations are divided into three classes, viz: (A) Countries with fixed currencies; (B) countries with fluctuating currencies, and (C) quarterly valuations of fluctuating currencies.
1 Corrected to July 1, 1899.