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by my distinguished friend, the delegate from Paraguay, Dr. Decoud.
The committee agreed entirely with the honorable delegate; and if the article was inserted it was due to the fact that in this Conference all the nations with whom we maintain political relations were not represented, and that it was difficult for us to know whether the others would be disposed to disarm themselves and put aside the means of defense offered by the vessels which will plow the seas under the national flag; but the Committees of the Pacific and the Caribbean Sea have resolved the problem as against this belligerent reservation, and that over which I have the honor to preside accepts those conclusions.
I ask, then, that the paragraph to which I refer be substituted by the following:
In case of war the vessels carrying the flag of one of the belligerents shall be registered in another of the contracting States, which shall maintain itself neutral.
To these explanations, made as chairman of the Committee on the Atlantic, I should add a few more, not in this character, however, but as the representative of my Government.
From the very beginning of the debates in the committee I took occasion to declare that the Argentine Government, while it agreed to the subsidizing of these lines, was not moved to it by commercial interests for reasons which are not unknown to my honorable colleagues. Our com. merce with the United States is most limited; the Argentine ports send to New York only $5,000,000 for $10,000,000 which New York exports to Buenos Ayres. This is not commerce for either of the nations, but the figures serve to indicate the relative interest which animates the two Governments in the subsidy. The cause of this situation I have gone into exhaustively in my remarks on the Customs Union, and I deem it unnecessary to repeat them; the Argentine Republic can not bring to these markets more than wool and hides ; but fine wools such as are ours have a duty of 60 per cent., and consequently only our mixed wool can enter, which has neither weight nor value, and which is about to disappear because of improvements in the breeds. The wool which we introduce into the United States represents $908,000 on a production of $46,000,000, and the hides introduced represents $3,750,000 on an annual exportation of $23,000,000.
These figures reveal the depression which marks our commercial relations with the United States, and I do not believe that vessels are the agents to be employed to remove the obstruction ; nor does the Argentine Government believe that maritime communication is going to re-establish custom-house relations; but it seeks and hopes for intimacy and firmer bonds with all the nations of America, and to attain such a generous end it will not economize sacrifices. By binding its ports to those of Rio Janeiro and New York it realizes an act of friendly significance which its delegation obeys and is ready to sustain. This is the true inwardness of my signature at the end of this report; we shall not vote it, however, without an explanation, which should be noted by the Secretaries,
The honorable delegates can not be ignorant of the fact that in these moments there exists at the Capitol a tariff bill which has seen the public light and has been discussed by all the national press, notwithstanding the fact that it is as yet in the Committee on Ways and Means, where it originated; this bill increases the duty on wool 1} cents per pound, and also increases 1} cents that on hides, which were before free. If that bill becomes a law Argentine importations will be unknown in the customhouses of North America. Hides and wool are the only products which we bring, and they will go to Europe in search of free markets. If the tariff was already prohibitory on fine wools it will be to-morrow on ordinary wools, and in that case there will be neither extensive nor restricted commerce.
I look at the question in a different light. The LatinAmerican Governments must study the moral significanco of this measure in its relation to the courteous invitation which has called us together. It is not the Argentine delegates alone who find themselves embarrassed by this act; it affects the interests of all the Governments represented in this Conference, as I can prove by the documents of the Treasury itself.
See how and in what proportion the Spanish-American States are represented in the importation of hides:
$3,749, 170 2, 225,000
40,000 1,526, 915
There is no necessity to examine the proportion of these importations; it is enough for me to know that this measure has the effect on all and each of the Spanish-American delegations to lead them to the perfectly justifiable belief that the commercial purposes of this Congress have been contra producentes, and that their dispositions and their attitudes have not been met with reciprocity. We have been called to encourage American commercial relations, and when we shall return to our country to give an account of our laborious mission we shall be forced to say to our Government, “We went to Washington with a product on the free list, and we have obtained a law which burdens it with a duty; another product was taxed at six, but when the Conference was over we found it taxed at seven per cent."
Such will be the commercial outcome of the Conference of the three Americas, judged without irony but also without admiration.
Would it be logical, sensible, and explicable for us to make pecuniary sacrifices and to people the seas with vessels in ballast when such a tariff situation confronts us?
Would the union of our ports be justified at the same time that the disunion of our custom-houses is decreed? To what end would we create means of transportation when at the same time we suppress international commercial relations?
Such a situation would be proper for the encouragement of and interchange of ballast, but not of products; and if there is to-day in New York a vessel which secures $14,000 of freight and does not secure in all the Argentine ports $1,800 for the return voyage, as I was told not long since by the honorable Mr. Flint, we may be assured that the vessels which are to sail under our flag will float with empty holds, sustained only by the generosity of two Governments who have the means but do not seek the end.
To facilitate transportation and at the same time to raise the tariff is to create the means to afford one's self the pleasure of strengthening resistance. Tariffs were resorted to as a consequence of the establishment of communications. They constituted the national defense against the invasion of foreign products. Tariffs and communications represent two tendencies and two forces antagonistic to each other, which never were fostered by the same government. A noted economist, Mr. de Molinari, has just explained to us in a brilliant article published in the Diario de los Economistas, which he edits, how Europe defended itself by tariffs when the United States perfected their means of transportation and became able to carry on the Atlantic all the products of the west to cross the seas and invade the markets of the Old World. The transportation represented the attack and the tariff the defense, as in the everlasting struggle between the projectile and the armor. But my confusion will be explicable if the spectacle is given me of defense and attack being combined under the protection of the same and identical governments. To lower the duties in favor of exporters and raise them against importations is to combine two acts in one contradiction.
The Argentine delegation respects, as much as any other, the sovereign acts of a friendly nation, but it has the right to judge them when they affect the international relations of commerce, which we have been bidden to consider, and especially when they require national sacrifices and assistance. Our Government does not subsidize a single steamer of all those which connect us with Europe, and meet, however, all the demands of transatlantic commerce-eighteen to twenty steam-ships entering our ports daily and a total of 13,500 vessels entering annually. This is not the effect of subsidies, it is the result of freight; and there is freight because there are no high tariffs to prevent orimpede interchange. But we desire communication with our friends of the North, and now that the tariff policy does not aid commerce or sustain freights, we accept the sacrifice of sustaining it artificially, but upon the following declaration, of which the secretaries will please make note:
The Argentine delegates give their vote in favor of the plan under discussion upon the basis of the present tariff, but they will recommend to their Government not to approve it if the tariff should be altered to the injury of the Argentine products.
This vote is the result of a formal agreement I arrived at with my honorable colleague, and should be inserted in full in the minutes, with all the explanatory remarks.
At the conclusion of Mr. Saenz Peña's speech the President left the chair, which was then occupied by Mr. Zegarra, of Peru, the first vice-president of the Conference.
Mr. HENDERSON. Mr. President, if I understand the interpretation of the honorable gentleman's speech, he indicates that there is a bill pending before Congress now to tax raw hides. I am not aware that there is such a bill pending before Congress. I am not aware that the committee on the tariff has reported at all. There has been no report made to the House of Representatives whatever upon the subject as yet, and I do not really know what that report will be. There is an intimation in the press that the committee had agreed to report in favor of taxing raw hides, but I saw this morning that a manufacturer of boots and shoes had gone before the committee and spoken against that. The committee has not made any report 563A