No. 417.
Mr. Gibbs to Mr. Evarts.

No. 257.]

Sir: On the 14th instant, the President, through an aid-de camp, informed me that he wished to have an interview with me. I called at the government house and met the President. His Excellency referred to various conversations that we had held on the manner of extending and improving commercial relations between the two countries, and desired to know if there was any manner of making a reciprocal treaty for one or two important products of both republics—wheat and barley from the United States, and sugar from Peru; by the free introduction of these articles and a reduction by the United States on Peruvian sugar. The President stated that he personally and the country were very desirous of doing everything possible to increase the volume of trade to and from the United States. I answered that at present, from the appearance of affairs in the United States, I doubted if anything could be done, as by last dates received, up to the 20th ultimo, a tariff was being discussed in the United States Congress which would increase slightly duties on the higher grades of sugar, but that I doubted its passage this session. In the mean time I would have the pleasure of giving his views to my government.

I have talked on this subject at various times with the President, and have had the honor of speaking in relation to it to your predecessor, Mr. Fish, in April, 1876, during a visit to the State Department. Knowing the great interest that you take in the increase of our commerce with these republics, as expressed in the circular dispatch of July, 1877, I will state in a brief manner my opinion in favor of such reciprocity.

[Page 730]

Sugar is an article it may be said of necessity in the United States, which I believe consumes as much per capita if not more than any other country, and is just as important to the “poor man’s breakfast” as tea or coffee; this was one of the arguments used for placing these articles on the free-entry list. If our population continues to increase pro rata as it has done these last twenty years, our Southern States, of which Louisiana is the greater producer, can supply but a moiety of the continually increasing demand, protecting a few to the detriment of many. Cuba and Porto Rico (monarchical colonies), supply two-thirds of the sugar consumed in the United States, produced by slave labor; the other supplying countries are all colonies of monarchical governments, and some from the Empire of Brazil.

Outside of the United States, Peru is the only republican country that supplies for exportation this very useful and greatly consumed article—a young republic struggling to open and receive commercial exchanges from her older sister, by free labor, in competition with the countries mentioned. There is not much foresight in saying that in a few years a great manufacturing interest will spring up in our States and Territories on the Pacific slope; also an ever-increasing population. Peru could supply plentifully sugar, alpaca, wool, and other articles of commerce, receiving wheat, barley, and the products of our manufactories.

This could be acquired by treaty. Peru would willingly admit our cereals free. Barley pays 3⅓ cents per kilogram; wheat 1 sole 80 cents per 62 kilograms.

The Peruvians say that there is a good precedent in asking for reciprocity in certain articles in the Sandwich Island treaty. Commerce is like the waters of a lake: once open an outlet, and the stream of itself will grow wider and deeper. Sugar will be an article of increasing importance in Peru. I refer to my dispatch on its product, No. 63, March 13, 1876; also its exportation, in No. 244 of April 26 last.

The President during our interview evinced great desire that the commercial interests of the two countries with each other should be increased.

I am, &c.,