Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 6, 1886
Mr. Jackson to Mr. Bayard.
Mexico, December 28, 1885. (Received January 5, 1886.)
Sir: Begging to refer to my dispatch No. 117, of 2d instant, inclosing copy of my note to Mr. Mariscal, directing his attention to the prohibitory character of the Mexican import duties upon certain food products of the United States, I now have the honor of transmitting copies and translations of two notes written by him in reply to the same.
I am, &c.,
Mr. Mariscal to Mr. Jackson.
Mexico, December 2, 1885.
Mr. Minister: I have to-day transmitted to the treasury department, for its consideration, your excellency’s note of yesterday, in which, by instructions from your Government, attention is called to the duties fixed in the custom-house tariff on certain food products of the United States.
I shall have the honor of communicating to your excellency the decision of the department of finance, and I renew, in the mean time, the assurances, &c.,
Mr. Mariscal to Mr. Jackson.
Mexico, December 19, 1885.
Mr. Minister: The secretary of the treasury, under date of the 16th instant, states to me what follows:
“The President of the Republic has been pleased to approve on this date the following opinion:
“The secretary for foreign affairs, with a note dated the 2d instant, transmits one which was addressed to him on the preceding day by the honorable minister of the United States of America residing at this capital.
“The honorable minister states that he has received instructions from his Government to call special attention to the fact that the rates of duty fixed by the existing [Page 569] tariff laws of Mexico upon certain food products of the United States are such, as to prohibit their importation.
“He says that for example the duty on lard is 20 cents per kilogram, or 9⅛ cents per pound; on smoked and salted meats it is 25 cents per kilogram, or 11⅜ cents per pound; and on canned meats it is 80 cents per kilogram, or 36⅜ cents per pound, all net weight.
“That if the price of lard be taken at 6 cents per pound net, and the freight, which is about 4⅛ cents per pound, be added, it will be seen that the duty, 9⅛ cents, is almost as much as the cost of the lard and the freight together.
“That on canned meats the result is yet more noticeable, for one case containing twelve. 2-pound, cans of corned beef will net 24 pounds of beef, costing about $2.50; that the freight to the city of Mexico is about $1.50 per case, while the duty, at 36⅜ cents per pound, is $8.73, making one case of 2–pound corned beef, laid down in the city of Mexico, cost $12.73, of which the duty is $8.73.
“That thus it becomes clear that the Mexican tariff, as it now exists, practically excludes these staples of necessity from the markets of the country, and inasmuch as none of them are produced in any of the States of Mexico, it would seem to be equally clear that, while benefiting no one, these prohibitory duties must operate to the prejudice of the people of Mexico in depriving them of cheap and wholesome articles of food.
“That there is scarcely room for doubt that if the tariff were modified so as to invite rather than to exclude these products of the United States, a trade would spring up in them largely augmenting the revenue of Mexico and promoting the true interests of both nations.
“The honorable minister of the United States concludes by recommending very respectfully, on the part of his Government, that consideration be given to this important subject, to the end of ascertaining whether the modifications in the existing tariff which he has been instructed to suggest may not be properly and judiciously made.
“The section can only report that having taken no part whatever in the formation of the customs regulations now in force, it is unacquainted with reasons which were had in view in order to fix the rates of duty which the existing tariff imposes upon the articles to which the honorable minister of the United States refers; but having learned that just at present work is going on in the study of the modifications which it may be proper to make in the said regulations, it is of the opinion that the secretary for foreign affairs might be requested to so inform the honorable minister of the United States, stating that his suggestions have been noticed, and that in due time they will be taken into consideration in order to determine what may be most judicious.
“And as the following opinion relates to the same subject, it has likewise been approved:
“Complying with your superior order of this same date, the section proceeds to show the differences resulting between the rates fixed in the tariff of 1880, and those fixed in the existing customs regulations upon the food products mentioned by the honorable minister of the United States in the note received through the department of foreign affairs:
|Articles.||Tariff of 1880.||Regulations, 1885.|
|Lard with interior wrapping||18 cents net kilogram.||20 cents net kilogram.|
|Smoked and salted meats||24 cents net kilogram.||25 cents net kilgoram.|
|Canned meats, with interior wrapping.||75 cents net kilogram.||80 cents legal kilogram.|
“As it is seen the differences undergone in the respective rates by the thre ear tides above-mentioned have consisted in an increase of 2 cents upon lard, of 1 cent upon smoked and salted meats, and of 8 cents upon canned meats; but it must be observed that, according to the tariff of 1880, lard paid 18 cents per net kilogram with inside wrapping, and now it pays 20 cents per net kilogram, and besides to the rates of the former tariff there had to be added 11 per cent. of additional duties and the package duty, whereas at present the rate fixed in the tariff is the only duty to be paid on the goods when imported.
“And I now have the honor of communicating the same to you in reply to your esteemed note of the second instant, stating furthermore that in the study which is being made of the modifications in the tariff, the suggestions referred to will be had in view.”
I transmit the above to your excellency for your information, reiterating the protestations of my distinguished consideration.