No. 314.
Aristarchi Bey to Mr. Fish.


Sir: Among the financial measures which the Sublime Porte now has under consideration with a view to improving the condition of our finances and gradually attaining the equilibrium of our budget, the most important is the increase of the revenues yielded by customs. We are obliged to place this measure in the front rank, because it can be carried out with little delay, and because it is really profitable. It was with this object in view that we gave notice in 1874* of our desire for the cessation of the effects of our treaties with foreign nations.

By limiting the import duty on all articles indiscriminately to 8 per cent., these treaties had confined within too narrow limits revenues which were susceptible of a sure increase, as had been shown by experience and the results obtained.

Divers causes and circumstances over which we had no control have rendered our financial situation a difficult one. The kindly feeling of statesmen will admit that it is our right, as it is our duty, to endeavor to apply a remedy.

The imperial government chiefly relies upon increased receipts from customs, and we shall secure this favorable result by raising the import duty to 20 per cent.

This decision, which the Sublime Porte is constrained to adopt, cannot be interpreted as concealing a design to inaugurate a prohibitory or protective system of duties.

To suppose that we would undertake to establish protective duties in an indirect way for the purpose of favoring certain articles of home manufacture at the expense of manufacturers of similar articles in foreign countries, and of thus getting competition exclusively in our own favor, would be to impute to us an idea which we do not entertain. Every one knows that our manufactures are, unfortunately, very limited, and that our productions could not compete with those of foreign countries. Turkey being an essentially agricultural country, the activity of domestic production is not exerted in manufacturing.

We cannot, moreover, be supposed to entertain a design of favoring imports from any particular country, for the new tariff will be in all respects uniform, and besides, the increase of duties will bear principally upon our consumers, that is, upon the natives of our country. Our only object is to improve our financial situation, which demands our most earnest solicitude. Like other countries, which, finding themselves in financial difficulties, have been obliged to turn their attention to new fiscal measures, particularly the increase of their tariff rates, we find it necessary, in the interest of our country, to devote the greatest [Page 592] attention to the amelioration of our finances. This is a right which the Washington Cabinet, with its high sense of equity, will not fail duly to recognize, and it is with a feeling of confidence in its friendly disposition that I hereby beg your excellency, by order of my government, to transmit to the Hon. Mr. Maynard, minister resident of the United States at Constantinople, the instructions necessary to enable him to enter into negotiations with the Sublime Porte for a new treaty of commerce.

The imperial government thinks that it could easily come to an understanding with such special delegates or commissioners as might be appointed for the purpose in regard to the manner of apportioning the duties in question among the various articles of import, and it will seek to reconcile, as far as possible, the interests of commerce with the exigencies of the treasury.

Be pleased to accept, &c.,

  1. Notice given in conformity with article 22 of treaty of 1862.