No. 121.
Mr. Dichman to Mr. Evarts.

No. 18.]

Sir: Inclosed is a letter addressed to me by the Hon. Salvador Camacho Roldan, secretary of foreign relations, on the subject of a reduction of the duty on Colombian tobacco in the United States in exchange for the free admission of American beer, and a reduction of 25 per cent. of the duty on American dry goods imported into this country.

As far as the trade with this country is concerned, the importance of the proposition cannot be overestimated. As Dr. Camacho points out, dry goods form the bulk of the importations into this country, and I am satisfied that, as they would all have to be bought in the United States, under a reduction of 25 per cent. in duty, all the other trade would follow. Nor would the free admission of American beer form an inconsiderable item, for beer of all kinds is kept out now by the prohibitive duty, and the free admission of American beer would cause a large trade in that article. Of course, I am not in a position to state how much the duty on Colombian tobacco can be reduced, but I am satisfied that the amount of tobacco which would be imported into the United States would be inconsiderable. But if we can have American dry goods admitted with a reduction of duty of 25 per cent., everything which this country will buy will have to come from the United States.

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Situated as I am here, I can clearly see the time coming when everything worthy of the name of commerce will be transacted with or through the United States 5 when the railroads, bridges, and other public improvements in this country will be made by our people, and when not only all the advantages resulting from an exchange of commodities will accrue [Page 255] to our people, but when, owing to the increased stability of the Colombian institutions arising from a closer intercourse with the United States, and the influence which our government and people will then be able to exercise upon the affairs of Colombia, the export and import trade of this country will rise to proportions which will dwarf the present amount.

There is not an article produced in this country but what is needed in ours, and to secure the commercial advantages thus hastily outlined, the proposition which I inclose to-day is the first step in a commercial policy with this country, which I hope to be able to submit in person to the consideration of the Department.

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I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 18.—Translation.]

Mr. Camacho to Mr Dichman.

My Esteemed Mr. Minister: In a private conversation with you in days past, it was manifested to me that it might just be possible to open to Colombian tobacco the great market of the United States by means of a special reduction in its favor of the high duties which are now contained in the American tariff, provided always that these be considered in the tariff of this country in reciprocity, a total remission of the duties on American beer, and a prudent reduction in the duties on cotton goods of the same origin (American).

If you should not find it inconvenient to proceed in this matter, I should like to know what special reduction on the duties of importation of our tobacco the United States could make on the raw material, as well as on tobacco manufactured into cigars, always provided that we will give free entry to American beer, and consent to a discount of 25 per cent. of the duties on the cotton goods manufactured in the United States.

The consumption of beer among our coast population above all would not be inconsiderable, for among those people, over 600,000 in number, there is to-day no popular beverage except liquors, and even in the states of the interior the use of it (beer) is already popular. In these last states of the interior there are small breweries, but the quality of the beer leaves much to be wished for and the foreign beer is consumed in small quantities, of course weighed down by the high duties which it pays now.

The consumption of cotton goods is perhaps 5,000,000 kilograms, the value of which may be estimated on an average in a lump at not less than $1 per kilogram.

The production of our tobacco is limited. It requires fertile and rich soil; is subjected to plagues and diseases, which destroy it frequently, and which in reality have reduced the cultivation of it about one-third part of what it was fifteen years ago; it needs much labor to cultivate it in the hot climate on the bottom lands of the large rivers, ordinarily unhealthy, and for that reason thinly inhabited. The total exportation of this article into the Hanseatic cities, where it is imported free of duty, and from where it penetrates into the markets of Germany, has never exceeded 125,000 cwt., according to the official statistics, which, in reference to tobacco, are the most complete which we possess. In reality it does not exceed, if it does reach, 50,000 cwt., on account of a disease which has attacked the plantations for several years. The quantity of tobacco which we can export cannot be considerable, nothing to a country which produces on its part 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 cwt. of the same article, and exports it in enormous quantities to the markets of Europe.

In return for our tobacco, the United States could not only sell us cotton goods, but also furniture, hardware, and iron and steel, boots and shoes, and many other articles which we do not buy now on account of the want of well-established commercial relations. Our gold might as well go to that market (United States), partly to pay for merchandise, partly to buy exchange on Europe. And the commerce of Colombia, situated on a point open by water between the two Americas and the two oceans, would be the best basis which the United States could desire to control the commerce with the republics of South America.

With distinguished consideration, your obedient servant,