The Secretary of State to the Commercial Attaché in China (Arnold)67

Sir: There is sent you enclosed herein a certificate68 of your appointment as a member of the American Delegation to the international tariff conference which is to meet at Shanghai in January 1918 for the purpose of revising the Chinese import tariff.

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You are hereby instructed to proceed to Shanghai where the Delegation will be provided with office quarters and the clerical assistance needed for the prosecution of its work.

You have been designated Chairman of the American Delegation, and the other member thereof will be John K. Sague, Esquire. Mr. Nelson E. Lurton has been appointed Secretary and Disbursing Officer of the Delegation and there has also been appointed a stenographer.

By the treaties between the United States and China the customs tariff was fixed at five per cent ad valorem; and the tax thus stipulated was converted into specific duties.

These specific duties, it is thought, no longer amount to five per cent ad valorem and it has been agreed by the Department of State at the request of the Chinese Government that the specific duties shall be revised and a new schedule of import duties prepared which will conform to the requirement of the treaties as regards the rate ad valorem. You are hereby therefore instructed and authorized to confer with the delegates appointed by various interested powers with a view to arranging such a new schedule of import duties, subject however, to the approval of this Government, and, inasmuch as the schedule of duties adopted in 1902 was made a part of the Commercial Treaty of 1903 between the United States and China, the new schedule to be agreed upon by your Delegation in conference with the delegates of other Governments, represented, will, after its acceptance by the various powers concerned, have to be embodied in a convention between the United States and China, to be submitted to the United States Senate for ratification before it can become effective in so far as concerns American trade with China. Commissioners for the negotiation of such a convention will be appointed after the general acceptance of the new schedule. The first question for settlement by the conference, the Department is informed, will be to determine the years of which the prices are to be taken as a basis for the computation of values, whether those preceding the outbreak of the present wars in Europe or those since that date.

You are further instructed as the delegates agree, from time to time, upon the duties to be levied upon any class of commodities,’ to report them promptly to the Department for review and for approval or rejection.

Should any question arise not covered by this letter you are directed to telegraph the Department for further instructions.

I am [etc.]

Robert Lansing
  1. Similar instruction sent to Mr. John K. Sague, regarding his appointment as member of the American Delegation.
  2. Not printed.