No. 67.
Mr. Washburne to Mr. Fish.

No. 1319.]

Sir: I intended to address you a dispatch long before this time touching the question of the commercial treaties now under consideration in France, * * * I will no longer delay the transmission of the facts I have been able to gather on the subject.

As you have seen by the official report of the minister of agriculture and commerce to the President of the French Republic, which was forwarded to you by Consul-General Torbert, the preferences of the chambers of commerce of France and of the chambers of agriculture, arts, and manufactures can be summed up as follows:

Extension of the treaty or conventional tariff system in place of the general tariff system.
Substitution of specific for ad valorem duties.
Abolition in the treaties to be made of the “most favored nation” clause.

The minister in communicating these conclusions to the President, which he seemed to favor, stated that they would be submitted to the superior council of commerce, which, after this preliminary inquiry, would be in position to reach some well-founded conclusion in the matter.

Since that time this council has been convened and has devoted much time to the subject. Its labors are not completed, and its proceedings have not been made public; but from information I have gathered on the subject I think I can safely state that it will in general approve the suggestions made by the chambers of commerce, and very likely give them a still more liberal shape. I understand, for instance, that they will recommend the adoption of the actual conventional tariff, which is lower than the general tariff, as the basis for the future general one. There will be a strenuous effort made in the council in favor of a proposition that no higher duty shall be adopted for the future than 10 per cent., but this may not be successful.

As to the substitution of specific for ad valorem duties, it has met with no objection, and the council is now engaged in preparing the table of conversion, which seems to be a long and somewhat difficult task. I understand also that the most influential men of the council are in favor of suppressing altogether the existing list of articles prohibited.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.