Minister Barrett to the Secretary of State.
Bogotá , February 7, 1906 .
Sir: I regret to report that the Colombian Government, by an order of which no previous notice was given, has placed an additional duty of 8 cents gold a kilogram on foreign flour. Heretofore the duty has been 8 cents with 70 per cent added, or an equivalent of $0,136 per kilogram. The new arrangement makes the total duty approximately 21½ cents a kilogram, or nearly 11 cents per pound.
This tariff is almost prohibitive in its effects, and will make the cost of foreign flour so high that good quality of bread will be practically a luxury and beyond the purchasing capacity of the masses of people. The tax is imposed under the statement that it is for the benefit of the wheat and grain growing interests of Colombia and to develop native industry. This reason seems, however, hardly convincing to foreigners and Colombians with whom I have conversed, because the cost of freight from the United States and other foreign countries to Colombia plus the heavy charges of transportation in the interior is entirely sufficient for the protection of native flour, while, on the other hand, the foreign product does not essentially compete with the native flour, and the former is absolutely required to mix with the latter to make good bread.
The result can not be otherwise than almost to stop the importation of flour from the United States, which is now one of the principal articles shipped to Colombia from our country.
I have, etc.