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From consular despatches, it appears that our trade with Russia has materially diminished during the past few years. It is ascribed, in part, to the distress which has prevailed in the interior of the country, occasioned by the failure of their corn crops for the years 1839 and 1840, and the exclusion of the capital of the United States from the Russian trade; most of the cargoes of sugars imported into St. Petersburg, in American vessels, having been on freight for foreign account. To this may be added the high prices of Russian produce, and the little demand for it of late in the United States.
The commercial intercourse between the United States and Austria is regulated by treaty, stipulating for a perfect equality of duties on navigation and commerce in the indirect trade.
The only Austro-German seaports are on the Adriatic, of which Trieste is the principal. The trade of Fiume is by no means as valuable, although it may be considered as bearing equally important commercial relations to Hungary, as Trieste bears to Germany.
The table of duties on imports from the United States into the Austrian Adriatic ports, for the years 1839, and 1840, has been prepared in conformity with tariff requisitions, which came in force by an imperial order of March 1st, 1839. That portion of the tabular statement embracing the imports for the preceding year was prepared according to the tariff for the Austrian dominions, in force to the date of the last and existing tariff above mentioned. The present tariff embodies all previous changes in a proper form, with a correct classification, which was the purpose of the requisition of the royal decree of the 17th January, 1839, calling for the compilation of a regular tariff, as also to establish the principle of the payment of duties by weight, instead of ad valorem, as before assessed, and thereafter to avoid the use, as much as possible, of the impracticable fractions of krutzers in the levying of duties.
The currency in which duties are collected is, in conformity with the new tariff requisitions in the Lombardy Venetian Kingdom, that of the Austrian lira; in the other countries, the convention money, viz: twenty florins to the fine mark of silver. The florin is worth about 48 cents U. S. currency, and is so valued in the accompanying tabular statement.
The standard weight for the collection of duties is, in the Lombardy Venetian Kingdom, the metric; in the other countries, the Venetian weight. The 100 lbs. Trieste or Venetian weight corresponds with 123 lbs. avoirdupois, or 904 lbs. Trieste with 112 lbs. avoirdupois. The cwt. Trieste (123 lbs.) was used in preparing the table, but the fractional pound was omitted in the several computations, considering the cwt. of 123 lbs. as sufficiently accurate for all the purposes for which the table was designed.
The tariff particularly specifies the NETT or gross weight of the merchandise, referring to the envelope or casing. In the collection of duties, the officers are required to regulate the same by the nett, inner gross, and full weight. The nett weight refers, of course, to the goods alone, without envelope or casing; the inner gross weight includes the last envelope or casing, as, for example, the sacks for grain, vessels for oils, &c.; the full gross weight comprises, with the goods, all interior and exterior envelopes and casings in which the goods are contained, even though they may be only temporarily used for the purpose of transfer into the interior.
The general character of the Austrian tariff does not appear to be highly favorable to commercial relations. But by its late changes, though they have not so lowered the rate of duties as to allow any considerable importation of foreign manufactures, still there has been removed one great abuse which until recently existed, in destroying those privileges and monopolies, as to importations, which admitted goods only under special authority, at the regulated rates; so that a party, even willing to pay the tax imposed, was not allowed to import an article without a particular license to do so, and then not for sale. The high rate of duties imposed by this tariff leads to numberless frauds, of which the known activity of the contraband trade on the frontier is the best evidence.
The commercial intercourse of the United States with Denmark is regulated by treaty, founded on a perfect equality and reciprocity of commerce and navigation, extending to the indirect trade. Imports and exports of foreign commodities are allowed in vessels of each nation on like terms as in their own vessels, and no prohibition imposed on imports and exports of the productions of the respective parties which shall not extend to all other nations. The vessels of both nations are subjected to similar duties levied at the Sound and Two Belts. These dues are imposed on all vessels trading with the ports on the Baltic, in addition to the port charges of light money, pass money, &c., from which it has been estimated that Denmark derives a revenue of one and a half million of Rix-bank dollars. • Vessels which pass the Sound bring to opposite Elsinore, where the channel is commanded by the battery at Cronborg castle, and here salute the castle by lowering their sails, and submit to a compulsory delay, even though they have no intention of making an importation into any port of Denmark, or occasion for the least detention at Elsinore, other than that which arises from the exaction and payment of the Sound dues.
The right of collecting this toll is guaranteed by old treaties with every maritime Power in Europe, a treaty to this effect having been concluded between England and Denmark before the middle of the fifteenth century. This was an arrangement confirmed by convention in 1645, known by the name of the Christianople treaty, to which a scale of duties was attached, and is the groundwork of the present scale. This tariff left, and now leaves, a large quantity of articles, including those which entered into the traffic of that period, as well as a great number of articles of modern commerce, unenumerated. These articles were thus vaguely disposed of: "All articles which are not specified in the foregoing list shall be calculated according to the usage of merchants, and as has been the custom from all time to the present;" thus leaving the estimates of this uncertain and fluctuating duty very much to the arbitrary discretion of the custom-house officers at Elsinore.*
These dues, burdensome from their amount as well as from their vague and arbitrary mode of imposition, have been much complained of by persons engaged in commerce, and the Government of the United States has been among the first to declare its intention to seek some remedy for these evils. A new tariff has been adopted, and a copy communicated to this Depart
ment. The principle of this new tariff is understood to be, that of converting the ad valorem duty of one per cent. on articles not enumerated in the old treaties, into a specific duty, to be equivalent to one per cent. on a fixed valuation; and also containing a reduction of duties upon many of the articles enumerated in the old tariff.
Mr. Jackson, the chargé d'affaires of the United States at Copenhagen, in a despatch to this Department, says:
"The effect of the new tariff on the two articles, raw sugar and rice in paddy, has been to reduce the duty on the former from nine to five stivers per hundred pounds, and on the latter from one and a half stiver the bushel (weight about 444 lbs.) to six stivers the four hundred pounds.
"In fixing the specific duty of five stivers per hundred pounds on raw sugars, ten specie dollars is assumed as the original cost of the article. This appeared to be so high a valuation for raw sugars in general as to lead ine to make very particular inquiries into the mode by which this valuation was arrived at. I ascertained that, with regard to this as well as other commodities, the commissioners have taken, as near as they could learn it, the original cost of the article at the place whence it was shipped for the past ten years, and have assumed the average cost of these ten years as a proper and just valuation on which to calculate a sum as a specific duty, which should be equivalent to the ad valorem duty of one per cent., according to the 3d section of the treaty of 1715. The high valuation of raw sugar, made in this manner by the commissioners, is acconnted for by the fact that, since the duty on all unrefined sugars has been equalised in Russia, nearly all the sugars that pass the Sound are the finer kinds of white Havana sugars; the lower priced yellow sugars being now very rarely sent up the Baltic in American vessels, simply because, as they pay precisely the same duties with the finer white sugars, they are found to be less profitable.
"At the present moment, owing to the uncertain state of the money market, and the general depression in all kinds of trade, the price of sugars, as well as of other leading articles of commerce, is unusually low, not only in Denmark, and throughout the North of Europe, but likewise at the ports of original shipment. The present price, therefore, can form no criterion for the fair average value of such sugars as are now sent to the Baltic. The cost of the finer white sugars for the past ten years has varied from eight and a half to eleven dollars per hundred pounds in Havana; from which place, or from the neighboring port of Matanzas, the greater portion of the sugars sent up the Baltic in American vessels is originally shipped. The average of these prices would make the valuation of the commissioners appear to be a fair one; and consequently the specific duty, of five stivers per hundred pounds, if at all too high, would certainly be only a small fraction of one per cent. more, upon an average, than the ad valorem duty of one per cent. to be levied according to the 3d section of the treaty of 1715.
-"On rice in paddy, by the new tariff, the Sound dues are reduced from one and a half stiver per bushel to six stivers per four hundred poundsa reduction of nearly two-thirds of the old duty. The original cost of all the American rice that has paid the Sound dues for the past ten years has averaged about eighty-five cents per bushel. At this rate, the specific duty of six stivers per hundred pounds is about one and a half per cent. on the average original cost of this article-an evident excess, therefore, so far as
the American rice in paddy is concerned, of one half of one per cent. over the ad valorem duty agreed upon in the 3d section of the treaty of 1715.
"By the new tariff, the duty on some other articles of more importance to American commerce is greatly reduced. On dye woods, with which American vessels are sometimes freighted up the Baltic, the duty is reduced from thirty stivers to eight stivers per thousand pounds of certain kinds, and from thirty-six stivers to twelve stivers for the remainder.
"On coffee the duty is reduced from twenty-four stivers to six stivers per hundred pounds. The effect of this latter reduction will probably be to cause this very important article to be hereafter shipped directly up the Baltic, instead of being sent, as heretofore, to Hamburg, and thence by land across to Lubec, to avoid the heavy Sound dues.
"The general effect of this new tariff will, I have no doubt, prove beneficial to American commerce. The profit on each individual cargo passing the Sound may be no greater to the American shipper, as the price of the various commodities affected by this tariff will probably fall in the Baltic markets in proportion to the reduction of duty thereon; but a lower price will, as a matter of course, increase the consumption of these commodities, and will therefore create a demand for a larger supply. Of the advantages arising from this increased demand, the well-known enterprise of American merchants will, no doubt, give them a full share."
Some few changes have been made, regulating various matters relative to the Sound toll, and the mode of its collection. It being already before the public in an extended form, an analysis is not considered important in this place. A list of the new articles on which duties are levied, and those on which duties are reduced at the Sound and Two Belts, will be found in their proper place in the body of the report.
DANISH COLONIAL POSSESSIONS.
The dependencies of Denmark are the ISLES of FEROE and ICELAND, in the Northern ocean; TRANQUEBAR, in Hindostan, (the sonth of India ;) southwest part of GREENLAND; and ST. CROIX, ST. THOMAS, and ST. JOHN, in the West Indies.
With the exception of the Danish West India islands, her colonial possessions are of no great commercial importance to the United States, and, indeed, they may be considered as but remnants of her former maritime power.
DANISH WEST INDIES.-The island of St. John, having no port of entry, its chief productions, sugar and molasses, are shipped through that of St. Thomas. The United States, having had heretofore no consular representative at that place, information of an official character respecting the trade and commerce of St. Thomas with this country cannot be communicated through this Department.
ST. CROIX.-The commercial intercourse between this, as also the other" West India islands belonging to Denmark, and the United States, is regulated by conventional arrangements with the mother country, dated April 26, 1826, which regulations, still continue in force.
Under the provisions of this treaty, the commercial intercourse of the United States with this island is placed upon a footing with that of the most favored nations; and no other restrictions are imposed upon or privileges granted to any other nation (not even excepting the mother country) than are imposed upon or granted to the United States.
Local legislation on the subject of foreign trade, has seldom been exercised by the authorities of the island; but whenever laws have been passed. by these authorities, they have been such as are calculated to encourage and promote it as far as possible, particularly with the United States, by granting various facilities to the importation of sundry articles of plantation stores, such as their exemption from all charges of duties, &c.
Transhipment of goods from one part of the island to another is permitted in vessels of the United States, free of all restrictions not imposed on national vessels.
This being an agricultural and not commercial island, the annual amount. of its imports varies but little, the amount of each year being about the same, as will be seen by the following statement.
By official returns, furnished the Department through the American consul at St. Croix, we are enabled to present the results of the trade between the United States and this island for the three years 1838, 1839, and 1840, and the amount of duties paid thereon, which was, upon certain articles, 5 per cent., and upon others 124 per cent. ad valorem.
Average aggregate value of articles, the growth, produce, or manufacture of the United States, imported into the island of St. Croix, with the amount of duties paid thereon, for the years 1838, 1839, and 1840.
81,051 00 8,652 19 138,768 97 13,719 92 122,819 43 12,498 83
347,777 90 8,652 19 447,718 42 13,719 92 344,580 02 12,498 83
The trade or commercial intercourse of this island, as well with regard to the mother country as the United States, is correctly termed one of barter, as sugar, rum, and molasses, the only staples of the island, are given in payment for the merchandise imported. On the shipment of their own products for export, a duty of 5 per cent. is levied on rum and molasses, and 12 per cent. on sugars. The amount of export dues accruing to the island were, for the year 1838, $115,706 03; for the year 1839, $113,792 53; and for the year 1840, $60,997 09.
The port charges, at this island, on vessels of the United States, are the same as those levied on national vessels, the amounts of which are regulated by the amount of merchandise laden. Vessels either outward or inward bound, laden with a bulk not exceeding half the weight of 5,200