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RETURN to an Order of the Honourable The House of Commons,
ETURNS" of PART I., of the RATES of IMPORT DUTIES Levied in EUROPEAN COUNTRIES and the UNITED STATES upon the PRODUCE and MANUFACTURES of the UNITED KINGDOM:"
"Ar PART II., of the RATES of IMPORT DUTY Levied in the pal COLONIAL and other PoSSESSIONS of the UNITED KGDOм upon the PRODUCE and MANUFACTURES of the UNITED KINGDOM."
(Duties in force, so far as ascertained, at date of issue of this Return, March 1880.)
(Mr. J. G. Talbot.)
FOREIGN IMPORT DUTIES.
Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed,
IT appears desirable, in issuing this Return, to call attention to the fact that the Customs regulations of the various countries differ considerably, and the differences are important to trade as well as the differences in the duties. themselves. These regulations are sometimes very stringent, and they are also enforced with varying degrees of strictness. It would be out of place here to name any particular countries as to which complaints are made respecting the Customs regulations and the mode of enforcing them, but as an illustration, apart from complaints, of what the effect of Customs regulations may be, it may be mentioned that heavy fines are exacted by the Customs authorities at Russian ports for any slight and often scarcely noticeable error in the declaration made by captains of vessels; and, in addition to these heavy penalties, the vessel is liable to be, and is frequently, delayed till such fines are paid; entailing serious losses on both the shipowner and the merchant who may be engaged in trade with that country. In Spanish ports also vessels are liable to be detained, should there appear to be any discrepancy in the ship's papers, and are frequently charged heavy port dues during such time as they may be so detained. This evil is also aggravated in some countries by the practice of allowing the Customs authorities to appropriate a certain percentage of any sums that may be received in fines. In certain cases too the Spanish regulations oblige a registration fee to be paid to the Spanish Consul at the port of shipment, amounting to about 1 per cent. of the value of the cargo shipped from this country to Spanish ports. Without the Consul's visé the master of the vessel would not be allowed to land his cargo on arrival at the port of destination. All such charges and regulations necessarily affect the trade with the countries concerned quite as much as the tariff rates.
Considerable alterations have taken place in the tariffs of the different European countries since the publication of the last Return, dated October 1876, No. 205, Session 1876. The general tendency has been to increase the rates of import duty, but, as a notable exception, the duties in Holland have been considerably modified. The most noticeable alteration in the Dutch tariff is, perhaps, the removal of all rates of import duty on yarns of cotton, linen, and silk. Copper and lead, and common copper and lead wares, are now admitted duty free. The import duty on leather has also been abolished in Holland.
In Russia the duties are now levied in gold instead of in paper, an alteration which, at the former rates of exchange, would give an increase in the rates of duty of about 30 per cent. In other respects, and with the exception of an augmentation in the rates on locomotives, pianos, spirits, and leaf tobacco, the Russian tariff has been but little disturbed, though a proposal for the increase
addition to certain minor alterations, the duties on spirits have been increased about 35 per cent., and on tobacco 50 per cent, and a duty has been imposed on plate glass, formerly admitted free. In Denmark no important alterations have been made, but in these three countries a uniform monetary system has been adopted since the publication of the last Return, and the krona has been substituted as legal tender in place of the Rix dollar mynt in Sweden, the Specie dollar in Norway, and the Rix dollar in Denmark.
In Germany the import duties have been very largely increased, and in the case of yarns a more complicated system of adjusting the rates has also been adopted. On the finer descriptions of cotton yarn the increase has been as much as 100 to 200 per cent., according to kind; on linen yarns, from about 50 to 300 per cent. On cotton manufactures the increase in the rate of duty varies from about 25 to 50 per cent.; on linen piece goods, of the finer qualities, from about 50 to 100 per cent.; on lace and on pure silk goods the increase is as much as 150 per cent., and on mixed silk goods about 70 per cent. Raw iron and steel, common iron and steel wares, and machinery, which were formerly admitted free, are now subjected to more or less onerous duties. Fresh duties have been imposed on certain lead or tin wares, and the duties on articles of copper of finer manufacture have been çonsiderably increased. With regard to leather and leather manufactures, coarse shoemakers' wares are now charged twice as much as formerly, while the rates on articles of fine leather have been increased about 60 per cent. The import duties on earthenware and porcelain have only been slightly augmented, but those on glass wares have been raised about 50 to 100 per cent. The duties on oils, candles, cheese, spirits, and tobacco have been increased in about the same proportion.
In Portugal the only alteration has been an increase in the duties on tobacco, but in Spain the tariff has undergone a revision which raises the duties on several important articles of British trade. Among the more noticeable changes are the following: the duty on coals has been raised 100 per cent., on ships and boats nearly 200 per cent., on leather of various descriptions 60 to 100 per cent., on seed oils and petroleum 250 per cent. and 200 per cent. respectively, on raw sugar 40 per cent., and on writing paper 20 per cent. In the case of machinery, clocks, and railway and tram carriages, specific duties have been substituted for ad valorem rates. It may be as well to state that not only are the products of the Spanish colonial possessions admitted at considerably lower rates of duty than those extended to foreign countries, but that since the issue of the last Keturn a system of differential duties has been established in Spain unfavourable to the trade of the United Kingdom, as compared with that of most other European countries.
In Italy, again, a new tariff has been introduced which establishes considerably augmented rates on a large number of articles. The duty on cotton yarns has been raised about 20 per cent. on the coarser yarns, and over 100 per cent. on the finer kinds. In the case of cotton and linen manufactures, while there is but little additional charge on the heavier kinds, there is an
of about 50 for cont
wares, the duties have been raised: rolled lead 100 per cent., lead wares 60 per cent., sheet tin 150 per cent., tin wares 15 per cent. The classification of leather wares has been entirely altered, and, though the duties have in many cases been raised, it is difficult accurately to state the proportional amount. Fine earthenware and porcelain are now subject to a higher rate of duty, the augmentation being about 60 per cent. on fine earthenware, and about 40 per cent. on coloured or gilt porcelain. The duties on glass and glass wares have been increased to about the same extent. Among other articles upon which the duties have been increased, the finer kinds of soap, stearine candles, petroleum, butter, cheese, cocoa and chocolate, sugar and spirits, may be mentioned; while it should be noticed that manufactured tobacco, which was formerly prohibited, is admitted at a high rate of duty.
In Austria the lower numbers of cotton yarns are admitted at a reduced duty, but the finer kinds are subject to an increase of from 30 to 50 per cent. Bleached and dyed silk yarns have been raised 80 per cent. While there has been an increase in the rates on cotton piece goods, those on linen goods have only been disturbed to a trifling extent. On pure silk goods there has been an increase of from 25 to 90 per cent., and on mixed silk goods of from 25 to 65 per cent. The classification of woollen goods has been altered, and the duties on woollen cloth of the finer kinds somewhat increased. The rates on woollen velvet, and hosiery have also been raised about 15 per cent. There is no alteration in the duties levied on iron or iron wares, but an addition of 30 per cent. has been made to those levied on copper in an unmanufactured state. On the other hand, there has been a reduction on lead in pigs, sheets, and coarse castings. The duties on leather and leather wares have been raised about 20 to 30 per cent; and those on the finer descriptions of refined petroleum have been doubled. The duties on spirits and liqueurs have been raised 30 per cent., and on chocolate, confectionery, and sauces 75 per cent. Chloride of lime is admitted at a reduction of 50 per cent., and the duties on candles are also lowered. 20 per cent. has been taken off the duties on bottled beer, and 24 per cent. and 20 per cent. respectively off those on refined and unrefined sugar. The duty on watches has been raised 30 per cent., and the rates for railway carriages are now specific instead of ad valorem.
With regard to the other countries, it may be as well to mention that in Switzerland no considerable alteration has been made, except in the case of the duties on tobacco. In Greece a war tax of an additional 10 per cent. of the duties in excess of the rates given in this Return has been imposed on all articles imported. In the United States a few trifling reductions have been made, but not sufficient to alter the average rate of import duty. A Bill has, however, recently been submitted to the House of Representatives proposing certain modifications and reductions of the tariff, which, should it pass into law, will materially affect the rates of import duty levied in that country on cotton linen and woollen goods, on raw iron. on steel rails, and on earthen