No. 597.

Mr. Thomas to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 100.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the doctrine of protection of home products by the imposition of duties on imports is gaining ground in Sweden. The most active protectionists in this kingdom at present are the large landed proprietors, and their efforts are chiefly directed to the protection of the products of their estates.

The Swedish Diet was opened on January 19; the committees were chosen on January 24, and already motions have been made, in both the upper and lower house, that duties be placed on the agricultural products imported into Sweden. These motions propose the imposition of duties on pork, wheat, maize, peas, barley, oats, flour, groats, butter, and cheese. All these articles are now duty free, except cheese, on which there is a duty of 7 öre per kilogram. The amount of duty asked for varies greatly in the different motions, being from 1½ to 12 crowns per 100 kilograms on wheat, 2½ to 15 crowns per 100 kilograms on flour and meal, and 10 to 15 crowns per 100 kilograms on pork. These motions have all been referred to the committee on ways and means, a joint standing committee composed of members of both houses of the Diet. The committee will give the subject a careful and thorough investigation, and will probably not report thereon for several weeks, perhaps not till the latter part of March. The matter will be fully discussed and excite an earnest contest both in committee and in the Diet between the protectionists and the free-traders.

Sweden until very lately has been inclined towards free trade. At the present moment, however, it is impossible to predict whether the attempt to place duties upon the necessaries of life will succeed or not, still less what will be the amount of such duties. It is certain that the contest will be close, and it is well that American farmers and exporters be warned of an impending danger.

The proposed duties are for protection, pure and simple. The exigencies of the Swedish treasury demand no new tax. Not only that, but in so large measure do the present revenues of Sweden exceed her expenses that the King in opening the Diet recommended a reduction of 30 per cent, in some of the chief taxes of the realm.

The significance of the proposed duties to America will be appreciated when it is recollected that the import of pork alone into Sweden amounts in value to $2,000,000 a year, and is almost exclusively the product of the United States.

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I would further call attention to the fact that the proposed duties concern Sweden alone and do not affect the sister Kingdom of Norway.

I can assure you that I am keenly alive to the importance of these measures, and I will inform you at once of every stage of their progress.

I have, &c.,