The Treasury Representative at Shanghai (Nicholson) to the Minister in China (MacMurray)78

The following comprises the organization of the National Tariff Commission now in session at the Maritime Custom House, Shanghai, for the purpose of promulgating a so-called Autonomous Chinese Tariff, effective January 1st, 1929.

There is also in the process of formation another Commission in Nanking which will bear a more or less similar name. The two Commissions are not to be confounded as in object and personnel they will be entirely different.

The National Tariff Commission of Shanghai was formed with the main object of drawing up a national tariff schedule applicable under the present circumstances and of studying questions related to tariff making. As by products it also studies problems which may have bearing with the making of National tariff, such as: The abolition of Likin, disposal of Customs funds, China’s domestic and foreign loans, revision of export tax, reciprocity, etc. The Commission is essentially technical.

This Commission is constituted by six members, the Chief of Customs Administration of the Ministry of Finance being the ex-officio chairman of the Commission, thus insuring a close touch with Customs Administration at Nanking. The Commission undertakes its study by dividing itself into the following divisions:—

Division of Compilation
Division concerning Agricultural Products
Division concerning Chemical Products
Division concerning Spinning and Weaving Products
Division concerning Mechanical Products
Division concerning Customs funds
Division concerning Customs Laws and Administration

Each of these divisions is headed by one or more experts. The work is done under the actual direction of the heads of the divisions and general supervision of the Commissioners. A secretariat under the direction of a general secretary handles the general affairs. Meetings are held every two weeks in which are present all the commissioners and secretary to discuss the progress of the work and whatever may come up from time to time. The Commission works also in close co-operation with the market bureau, the chief of which is also a member on the Commission.

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An effort has been made by the Chairman of this Commission, through Professor Sayers of Harvard University,79 to engage the services in China of Professor Taussig80 in connection with their work on their proposed National Tariff. Professor Taussig has refused the offer of the Commission and has recommended Edward P. Costigan of the United States Tariif Commission in his stead. It is believed that the Commission are now carrying on negotiations with Mr. Costigan.

  1. This paper bears the notation: “Copy of Memorandum handed to the Minister by the American Treasury Attaché at Shanghai, China, March 30, 1928.” Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in China in his despatch No. 1465, Apr. 10, 1928; received May 12.
  2. Refers to Francis B. Sayre, professor of law at Harvard University.
  3. Frank William Taussig, professor of political economy at Harvard University.