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exertion, and we admit that we seek other markets. Surely this desire is a legitimate one, and if we can furnish these products to other nations at the lowest price their interest and ours will both be promoted by the transaction.
If we can not furnish them cheaper than others, reciprocity treaties will not compel the contracting nation to take them. The Argentine is now offered open ports for all her products in return for what may prove an empty promise to us. We make no complaint that she rejects the offer. The golden opportunity, however, may not come again.
The old Scythians
In conclusion, Mr. President, I beg my friend to cast away his gloomy fears concerning the future of the United States. Our seeming prosperity is not an unsubstantial mirage, a painted illusion which vanishes before approach, much less is it the brilliant electric flash to be followed by blinding darkness.
If all our foreign trade were entirely lost, we should not be as one who sorrows without hope. We would still have forty-two rich and powerful nations for the free interchange of commodities. Our lands would be no less fertile, our mechanics no less ingenious, our mines no less productive. Industries would soon be diversified and adapted to the changed conditions. Happily we have among ourselves all the elements of wealth, all the requisites of supreme independence. The denial of a few accustomed luxuries would not derange our finances, founded as they are upon a specie basis. It would silence no workshop, stop no locomotive, furl the sail of no inland ship, nor damp the fires of a single furnace.
Children would still attend the schools and human charities would not be neglected
We should still retain our institutions of freedom, with all their guaranties of human happiness. The soil would still bring forth abundant crops, while the manufacturer and artist would continue to supply means of comfort and objects of beauty. The climate would be unchanged,and the air still be breathed by freemen only.
But why do I contemplate, even for a brief moment, such impossible things as suggested by the honorable Delegate. The mission of America is higher and nobler than this. Our Congress is now proposing to tender reciprocity to the Canadian provinces. Mexico at last turns away from revolutions and bloody strife, and devotes her energies to the development of resources rich beyond human conception. Under the administration of a wise President, the victories of peace claim higher honors than those
It is still true that “when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn;" “and when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice."
The spirit of enterprise begins to spread like contagion into Central America. Imagination already paints on her canals the commerce of the world. The locomotive is there a messenger of peace, the steel rail a bond of friendship.
Columbia and Venezuela and Brazil and Ecuador and Peru already feel the irresistible impulse which impels to a closer union. The Argentine and Chili may hesitate for a time, but finally they too will join hands with their sister Republics, and joyfully assist to fulfill the bright destiny that awaits us all.
SESSION OF MARCH 29, 1890.
Mr. Flint. I move that the honorable Delegate from Mexico be requested to read a paper which he has prepared, and, as I understand, copies will be furnished to the Argentine Delegates and to Mr. Henderson, and to others who are absent.
The First VICE-PRESIDENT. If there be no objection, the motion of the Hon. Mr. Flint will be consid
ered as approved. The chair hears no objection, and the motion is approved.
REMARKS OF MR. ROMERO.
Mr. ROMERO. Considering the importance of the question of a customs union to all the American nations, and especially to Mexico, and in view of the opinions which have here been expressed upon it, I believe it advisable to make some corrections and explanations regarding them. I shall begin with the remarks made by Mr. Delegate Flint in the session of the 17th instant.
For the purpose of sustaining the statement he made in a speech at the banquet which took place in Chicago on the 22d of last October, in which he maintained that 80 per cent. of the products of the American nations consumed by the United States are imported free of duty, and that only 20 per cent. are subject to duty, which was contradicted by the Delegate from the Argentine, Mr. Flint read statistics published by his Government which revealed a result still more favorable. Having taken the trouble to copy the figures of that commerce from the latest publication of the Bureau of Statistics of the Treasury Department of the United States, which includes the fiscal year of 1888–1889, I discovered radical differences between the figures cited by Mr. Flint in his speech and those of the publication referred to, and for this reason I interrupted his speech to ask where he had obtained his figures. Mr. Henderson understood my question to refer only to the statistics of trade with Mexico, which was an error, as it comprised those of the entire trade of the United States with the American nations.
From the explanation of Mr. Flint it appeared that he had taken his data from a publication made by the Bureau of Statistics of the Treasury Department, entitled, “Commerce of the United States and other foreign nations with Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and South America,” which publication contains statistical data up to the fiscal year of 1887-1888, while I copied them from another publication, also official, entitled, “ Annual statements, by countries and customs districts, of the imports and exports of the United States for the year ending June 30th, 1889.” My figures, therefore, were later by a year than those of Mr. Flint, and, having placed them at his disposal at the same session the notes I had taken of them, he included them in his speech of the 17th as it appeared on the following day in the New York newspapers, and which was afterward read in Spanish in this Conference.
The same may be said of those presented by Mr. Saenz Peña, Delegate from the Argentine Republic, when he spoke of the proportion between the free and dutiable articles in the total import of foreign goods in the United States. From the last-cited publication it appears that the total foreign importations in this country during the fiscal year of 1888-1889 aggregated $745,131,652, of which amount $256,487,078 were imported free, and duties were charged upon $188,614,574, which shows that 344 per cent. of the whole were admitted free, and 654 paid duty.
The importations by the United States of America of products from the American Republics during the year 1888–1889, excluding Paraguay, from which no data are given in the book referred to (probably because none of the products of that country come here, or because, if they do come, they are enumerated among the products of some of its neighboring nations), amount to $120,560,325, of which $105,822,138 were admitted free of duty, and $14,738,187 taxed, giving the proportion of 884 per cent. free to 124 per cent. paying duty.
Mr. Flint asserted that this result was due to the commercial policy of his country to regulate its trade with the American nations, by imposing the lightest possible duties. I do not consider this statement to be accurate, as the greater part of American products imported into the United States of America are raw materials, which are free of duty for the exclusive benefit of this country, and not because of sentimental considerations in favor of the countries producing them, and which import them here because of the very reason that they are not taxed. Coffee alone represents nearly 64 per cent. of the total amount of American productions which were admitted free of duty, for during the last year it was imported to the amount of $67,778,586, or be it 90 per cent. of the total amount of coffee imported to the United States, which reached $74,724,882, and the taking off of the duty on coffee by the act of the Congress of the United States of the 1st of May, 1872, did not have in view, to my mind, the promoting of trade with the American nations that produce this article, but rather to lower the price of an article, which is almost a prime necessity to the inhabitants of this country.
Mexico, for instance, sent to this market last year coffee to the amount of about $3,000,000; silver ore nearly $7,000,000; silver in bars and coined, $16,457,896, and the only product having a duty which it could import was the fiber called henequen, to the extent of $6,000,000; which is due to the fact that up to the present time Mexico is the only country producing it.
The American nations raise several other products which can not now enter this country because they are taxed with heavy duties, as is the case with sugar, wool, etc.; and regarding sugar, no reduction of duty has been effected, not even with a single country, namely Mexico, and in the face of a reciprocity treaty which conceded to the United States great advantages, equivalent to the suppression of those duties on Mexican sugar.
The civil war with the South, which demanded heavy expenses and forced the country to contract an enormous debt, created the necessity to increase the revenue, and for this purpose very heavy import duties were imposed, and under their shadow new industries were established in this country having as a bounty the quota imposed as import duties on foreign articles of a similar kind. Thus a multitude of industries of great importance have developed, which are interested in the maintenance of high duties. Moreover, the opinion prevails among many favorable to such duties, not any longer as a means of revenue, but because of their protective character. This fact causes any measure tending to a reduction of these duties to meet a decided opposition on the part of the manufacturing and producing classes to the degree of rendering it almost impossible to obtain a reduction of, or