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and vessels of the built of the United States when owned by French subjects, which were admitted to naturalization, and so far promoted the building of ships as an article of trade with France. This last discrimination is now abolished, and no new ones have been made in our favor.
There is therefore ground to assert that the commercial system of France towards the United States as compared with other foreign nations, has been and now is less favorable and friendly than that of Great Britain.
Particular Observations. I. As to flour. This article, previous to the revolution in France, was subject to but a very light duty on its importation there. At present it is free to all the world. But unless material changes take place in the state of France, the United States are likely to derive little benefit from this circumstance.
The ordinary price of flour in France is about $5 66 cents per barrel (of Pennsylvania). In Pennsylvania it may be stated at
upon an average; the freight to France is
; other charges amount to about
which would make the costs and charges of a barrel of American flour in France $6 33 cents; of course it cannot, except on extraordinary occasions, be sent there without loss.
In Great Britain it has been stated that flour was subject to a prohibitory duty till the price there was about 48 shillings the quarter. The flour of the United States can therefore only be carried occasionally to Great Britain as well as to France, but the occasions have hitherto been more frequent in Great Britain than in France.
Accordingly, in the course of the years 1786 and 1788, the whole quantity of flour sent from Pennsylvania to France amounted to 2396 barrels; that sent to Great Britain, to 828 barrels. But the act of Parliament of the
puts this article upon a worse footing than heretofore, and experience only can decide, whether flour can be henceforth sent with most advantage to Great Britain or to France.
The quarter, however, which in relation to both nations, it most interests the United States to have access to, as a market for their flour, is the West India Islands. Here the comparison is decidedly in favor of Great Britain. The general system of France, is to prohibit the reception of our flour in her West India markets—that of Great Britain to permit it.
It is true, that occasional suspensions of the prohibition take place; but these suspensions being confined to cases of necessity, the system of France, which excludes us as far as possible, cannot on this account be viewed as less unfavorable to the United States, than if no such suspensions took place.
Flour appears to be the principal staple of the United States. This principal staple, is, upon the whole, more favored by the regulations of Great Britain than of France. Accordingly, in the year 1790, the exportations to the British dominions, amounted to $1,534,276; to the French dominions to $1,483,195. The comparison is the stronger in favor of Great Britain, from the circumstance, that this year. was one of extreme scarcity in France. In ordinary years, the difference must be far greater.
II. As to tobacco. It may be presumed, that this is an article of such a nature, that it is immaterial to the United States, what duty is laid upon it in either of the two countries, if the same duties affect all other imported tobacco. 'Tis a case in which neither of the countries produces itself the article, to enter into competition with that of the United States. The duty, therefore, must essentially fall upon the buyers, not the sellers.
Previous to the French Revolution, there was no import duty in France, upon tobacco, but it was under a monopoly of the Farmers General; a situation far more disadvantageous to the United States, than any tolerable duty could be, by destroying a free competition among purchasers.
The decree of January, 1791, has laid a duty upon this article, if brought from the United States to France in American vessels, of 25 livres per kental; if brought in French ships, of only 18 livres and 15 sous. The tobacco of the United States has been, and is, upon no better footing, than that of some other foreign nations.
In Great Britain, as has been stated, a considerably higher duty is paid on other foreign tobacco, than on that of the United States; and it may be carried to Great Britain, in vessels of the United States, upon the same terms as in British bottoms, while the ships of other nations, bringing tobacco, are subjected to a greater duty on the tobacco which they bring than the ships of Great Britain.
Although, therefore, there is a higher duty on tobacco in Great Britain than in France; yet as in France the duty is the same on other foreign tobacco as on ours; as in Great Britain a higher duty is charged on other foreign tobacco than upon ours; as the comparative rate, not the quantum of the duty in either country, is the only thing which concerns us, it is evident that our tobacco is much more favored by Great Britain than by France. Indeed the difference of duty operates as a positive bounty upon the tobacco of the United States.
As it regards our navigation, the comparison is still more striking. Here, too, we are more favored by Great Britain than other countries; while the existing regulation of France is in the degree the most exceptionable to be found in the code of any country. It amounts to a prohibition of carrying our own tobacco to France in our own ships.
Several European nations have aimed at a monopoly of the carrying trade of their colonies, but the spirit has not extended to their home dominions. Slight differences have been made between foreign and national ships in favor of the latter; but a difference amounting to an exclusion of the former is perhaps without example, except in the regulation in question.
The principle of this regulation would prostrate the navigation of the United States more effectually than any which is to be found in the system of any other country.
Hence, in respect to the article of tobacco, the staple of the United States which may be deemed second in importance, th 3 regulations of Great Britain are far more favorable than those of France.
Great Britain took from us in the year 1790, $2,777,808, while France took only $427,746.
Hence also it appears that Great Britain is a far better customer for the article than France.
III. As to fish and fish oil. The regulations of France as to these articles are incomparably more favorable in their operation than those of Great Britain, though there is no material difference in principle.
Great Britain lays a prohibitory duty on oil, which excludes all but the finest kinds occasionally, and absolutely prohibits fish.
France lays such duties on the fish and oil of other countries, and grants such premiums and encouragements in relation to the products of her own fisheries, as amount completely to a prohibition, so far as her capacity to supply her own dominions extends.
The duty on foreign fish in the French West Indies, and the premium on French fish, as stated in the table, amount virtually to a bounty on French fish of nearly 100 per cent. of the value. In France the duty alone is about 75 per cent., and it is understood that the premiums and bounties in favor of the French fisheries are enormous.
The distinctions, nevertheless, which have been made in favor of the whale fisheries of the United States have been of material aid to them; but there is reason to apprehend that the means which have been successfully used to detach our fishermen, and the vast encouragements which are given by the government, that the whale fishery of France is establishing itself on the ruins of that of the United States.
The cod fishery stands on a different footing. Our natural advantages are so great as to render it difficult to supplant us; but as far as we have been able to maintain, in this respect, a competition with the French fisheries in the French markets, it is to be attributed to their incapacity to supply themselves, which has counteracted the effect of a system manifestly prohibitory in its principle.
The real spirit of the system of France on this head, not only appears from what has been done, but from the manner of doing it.
In August, 1784, the arrêt giving admission to foreign fish in the West India markets was passed. In September, 1785, another arrêt was passed, granting a premium of ten livres per kental on French fish. Seven days after, so great was the anxiety, another arrêt was passed raising the duty on foreign fish from three to five livres. An arrêt of the 29th of December, 1787, grants a right of storing for six months in France all the productions of the United States, in order to re-exportation, paying only a duty of one per cent. In February following, another arrêt passed, excepting from this right all the products of the fisheries, evidently from a jealousy of our interference with the French fisheries.
A further explanation of the spirit of the French system on this point, is to be found in the passage of a report to the National Assembly, in the year 1789, from the Committees of Agriculture and Commerce. After stating a diminution of the product of the French cod fishery, during the year 1789, the report proceeds thus: “This diminution ought to be attributed to the collusion of the English and free Americans who contrived to disappoint the French fisheries, by finding means to supply us with their fish, while they eluded the payment of the duty imposed on importation, in order to establish a preference in favor of the cod of the French fishery.
But however similar the principle of the French and English regulations may be, in regard to their fisheries, the result to the United States is vastly different.
The dominions of France take of the fisheries of the United States to the extent of $724, 224; those of Great Britain to the extent only of $88,371.
IV. As to wood, particularly lumber. The regulations of France have not made, and do not make, any distinction as to the articles of this kind in favor of the United States.
Those of Great Britain make material distinctions in favor of the United States and their ships, putting the citizens and ships of the United States, in this respect, upon the same footing as those of their own colonies, as far as regards the European market.