Minister Furniss to the Secretary of State .
Port au Prince , September 22, 1906.
Sir: I inclose herewith copy of a decree of the Haitian Government wherein it is stated that on and after November 1, 1906, the old import duties will be reestablished on soap.
The decree states that the law of August 21, 1906, copy of which was transmitted in my No. 90 of August 24, 1906, “permits the Government to take all measures necessary to prevent the augmentation of the prices of produce destined for consumption,” but a careful reading shows that the law explicitly grants this right of decree only in so far as foodstuffs is concerned (Art. V, law of August 21, 1906), and soap could not be so included.
As anticipated in my No. 90, of August 24, 1906, this decree is demoralizing all business in soap. Already some of our American firms are protesting to this legation against the reduction contemplated, as they anticipate having in hand on November 1, 1906, a stock of soap on which they have paid the gold duties under the law of August 21, 1906, while their competitors may import under the decree and pay duties which will be about one-half of the gold duties to be collected until then.
So far as can be ascertained, and I have spoken with a number of the larger importers, there has been no marked advance in the retail price of soap since the law of August 21, 1906, became effective, and the true reason for the decree is not evident, unless it is, as suggested by some, to punish some of the local soap factory concessioners who are granted free entry of all raw material, and under the law of August 21, 1906, would be able to-obtain a better price for their products.
The change in classification from the gold duties, effective since August 21, 1906, to the paper currency duties in force prior to that time reduces the duties about 75 per cent, in view of the fact that under the old law soap was exempt from the additional 25 per cent in gold tax.
This change in duty will enable the United States to keep the trade in soap heretofore enjoyed and which would have been considerably cut down by the extra margin which the gold duties gave the Haitian factories.
I have, etc.,