No. 179.
Mr. White to Mr. Evarts.

No. 17.]

Sir: The new import tariff has now been before the Reichstag several weeks, and is for the most part being, adopted in the form in which it has already been transmitted to you. Many of the proposed duties have given rise to animated discussions, and as a specimen of these I have the honor to forward to you the inclosed translation of an abstract of the debate on the duty for an important article of American home production, which our traders have hitherto exported in large quantities, and upon which the Reichstag has resolved to levy a tariff of 10 marks ($2.38) per 100 kilog. (200 pounds).

The debate may also be of interest, as serving to inform you on some of the reasons urged here for and against the adoption of the increased duties.

I have, &c.,

[Page 393]
[Inclosure to dispatch 17.—Translation.]

report of debate in the reichstag.

The new tariff was considered for the second time.

In the item 26c, under which fats are classed, a duty of 10 marks ($2.38) per 100 kilog. (200 pounds) was proposed on pig and goose lard.

A debate ensued.

Deputy Richter (from Hagen) who asked that this article should be admitted free of duty, pointed out that the question concerned the poor, who consumed it largely, and also affected the American lard, which was much cheaper than the native product. Inasmuch as the price of this is increased, large classes of the population who are unable to purchase butter, but can afford cheap lard, will be debarred from using it. In many districts American lard is consumed, mixed with that of home production. The opinion that American lard of all kinds is a competitor of German lard is proved to be a mistaken one by the reports of the Bielefeld Chamber of Commerce, that is to say, reports from a district in which pig-rearing and all connected with it flourishes more than anywhere else. It is stated in those reports that, in spite of the American, the Westphalian lard, on account of its umivalled good quality, is in such demand that a supply commensurate with the demand cannot be obtained. Three-fourths of the lard consumed by us is of American production, and if we calculate the quantity supplied by each pig, we find that Ave should need to kill yearly from 4,000,000 to 6,000,000 more pigs than we have, in order to fill the place of the quantity now brought from America.

According to the latest calculations we have within our borders only 7,000,000pigs; and if we assume that of these, 3,000,000 are slaughtered yearly, we should, in order to supply the present demand for lard, have in future to kill twice or thrice as many, which is a manifest impossibility. Only one-tenth of the rearers of pigs are persons of small means, and they are precisely those who themselves consume them. Therefore, it is not the petty dealer who will be protected. The tariff will be essentially one for revenue purposes, realizing about 5,000,000 marks. We have to deal with a considerable enhancement of the cost of living among the industrial population of the Rhine province and Westphalia; and these, without American bacon and lard, will find themselves deprived of an-important article of diet.

It has been calculated by Herr Baare, of Bochum, that a family would consume about 15 pfennige (3.57 cents) worth of butter and lard daily, and a tax on this of 12 per cent. amounts to 6 marks a year. It is said, when tariffs on goods coming from the east are being discussed, that they are necessary for the railway interest; but here we have articles imported across the sea from America, where natural wealth, an intelligent, industrious race, and the triumphs of science have made its cheap productions available to all the world. But by these tariffs all such advantages are to be neutralized.

The next speaker was the Federal Commissioner and Privy Councilor Rothe, who said: Whatever one may think of the tariff, it has this advantage: it will produce important financial benefits. The money to produce these must, of course, be paid by some one; but whether the consumer alone will pay it, is as yet very doubtful, even though it be admitted that he will pay a considerable part of it. If the previous speaker believes that one pig supplies only from 15 to 20 pounds of lard, he does the pigs an injustice, for in America it is calculated that one pig will produce about 20 kilog. (40 pounds) of lard. The importation of American lard has greatly increased of late, and very perceptibly affected prices. Thus the tariff will insure a certain protection to the rearers of pigs. That the poor man will not be greatly burdened by the tariff, can be gathered from the fact that he is not only a consumer but also a producer, and, therefore, has little to do with the imported article.

Deputy Count Udo Stolberg said that, as the object of the tariff was to ensure higher wages for workingmen, these would be able to afford a few pfennige more for their lard. But the matter concerned not only the interest of one poor man, but the interest of two poor men, the one who reared the pigs and the one who consumed them. Thus the tariff would supply, even for small owners of landed property, a sure protection; for, even if the duty was one for revenue purposes, it would still have the nature of a protective tariff. If Deputy Richter was of opinion that the German pig-rearing trade was not capable of development, he was in error. It was exactly that trade which could easily be developed to an extraordinary extent.

Deputy von Schorlemer Alst remarked that if the Bielefeld chamber of commerce had declared in favor of the importation of American lard, it was because that chamber was the mouth-piece of the manufacturers and traders who are interested in cheap lard. The most dangerous competition German agriculturists had to meet came from America. When the cheap corn coming thence was complained of by them they were told to fall back on cattle rearing, but now the Americans come with cheap lard, [Page 394] bacon, ham, and even with cheap butter. The Americans were a practical people, and if they desired to ruin any industry, they did not hesitate to sell below cost till they had accomplished their object. This it was that made a change in the tariff absolutely necessary.

On the proposition in favor of the duty being put to the Reichstag, there were for the duty 184 votes, and against it 79.