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During an extended conversation, the minister assured me that his Government was ready and willing in return to recommend and urge upon Congress the adoption of concessions in the Argentine tariff laws which will furnish the United States a better opportunity for developing their commercial interests here than at present exists.
The minister was very frank, cordial, and outspoken in this, and I assured him that his sentiments would be highly gratifying to the people of the United States.
The time seems opportune to secure such modifications in this direction as can be had, affecting those lines of manufactures in which the United States can command the market or successfully compete with other countries.
To enable me to properly understand the tariff situation here, I am preparing a list of goods manufactured in the United States, which I believe can be successfully sold here; this list I am comparing with the Argentine tariff laws to see in what degree the various articles are affected by the import duties. When thoroughly matured, I shall accept the invitation extended last night by the minister of foreign affairs, and informally discuss with him such modifications in duties as appear to me of advantage wholly or largely to the manufacturers of the United States.
In the absence of any instructions from the Department, no steps will be taken by me in the matter, except upon the invitation of the minister of foreign affairs, and then only to such an extent as seems prudent and advisable.
The commission to revise the tariff is now sitting. This, together with the fact that the Argentine Congress is now in session, leads me to believe that the subject should have prompt attention if any benefits are to be received during this year. I have, etc.,
WILLIAM I. BUCHANAN.
Señor Zeballos to Mr. Gresham.
ARGENTINE LEGATION, Washington, July 30, 1894. (Received July 31.) Mr. SECRETARY OF STATE: The news that the two Houses of the United States of America had voted the entry, duty free, of wool and of other articles which are likewise produced by the Argentine Republic, has made the most favorable impression on my Government and had the most favorable effect upon the commerce of my country, it being deeply interested in developing the relations of trade between the two republics.
Toward the close of 1893, the Argentine Congress suppressed the import duty upon crude petroleum, as I had the honor to inform the Secretary of State in my note of January 30 last.
The inclosed copy of the telegram of the minister of foreign relations of my Government, in which he acknowledges receipt of the news of the vote to which I have referred, shows that the executive power of my country proposes to advocate additional reductions of duty in respect to products of the United States of America; and a commission appointed to study the reform of the customs laws has already publicly stated its opinion in favor of the reduction, to an important extent, of duties upon refined petroleum, agricultural machinery, and white pine and spruce (lumber), which articles are at present among the principal purchases of the Argentine Republic in the market of the United States.
In communicating to the Secretary of State these satisfactory tidings, I permit myself to remember that they confirm the predictions which I had the honor to submit to the upright judgment of the President of the United States in the interview wherewith he honored me on the 13th of November, 1893, and to the Secretary of State in various communications, oral and written, wherein I stated that the duty-free admission of wools and other agricultural products would give a new and reciprocally advantageous aspect to the commerce of the two nations, energetically stimulating it in favor of spontaneous and reciprocal parliamentary courtesies. I renew, etc.,
Señor Costa to Señor Zeballos.
BUENOS AYRES, June 18, 1894. ARGENTINE MINISTER, Washington, D. C.:
Received telegram with great satisfaction. Government will use efforts in order that Congress shall respond with possible exemptions.
Mr. Adee to Mr. Buchanan.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, August 9, 1894. SIR: I have received your No. 28, of June 20 last, reporting the satisfaction expressed by the Argentine Government at the action of Congress in placing wool on the free list, and their readiness to respond, and have inclosed a copy to the Secretary of the Treasury for his information.
I append copies of your telegram of the 4th and of the Department's reply of the 7th instant, and inclose copies of the Argentine minister's notes on the same subject. I am, etc.,
ALVEY A. ADEE,
[Inclosure 1 in No. 23.]
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Gresham.
BUENOS AYRES, August 4, 1894. Mr. Buchanan inquires, whether in view of incorrect valuations and high duties in the tariff of Argentine on some prominent products of America, he is authorized to secure, if possible, equitable adjustment in tariff law under consideration.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 23.)
Mr. Gresham to Mr. Buchanan.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, August 7, 1894. · Mr. Buchanan is instructed to exert all legitimate influence to induce Argentina to enact laws favorable to the commerce of the United States and equitably responsive to the concessions made by Congress.
Mr. Buchanan to Mr. Gresham. No. 49.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Buenos Ayres, August 13, 1894. (Received September 24.) SIR: Referring to my telegram of the 4th instant, I beg to subinit my reasons for asking the sanction of the Department as outlined therein and my subsequent action.
There have been several references made in the public press of this city to the effect that it was the understood purpose of this Government to either place lumber, kerosene, and agricultural implements on the free list or greatly reduce the duties thereon in compliment to the supposed purpose of the United States of placing wool on the free list. This view has been understood to meet the favor, either wholly or in a measure, of the distinguished Argentine minister in Washington, Dr. Zeballos.
A siinilar inference is contained in the remarks made by the present minister of foreign affairs, Dr. Costa, during his call at my residence, referred to in my No. 28.
I have taken pains to study this subject closely since my arrival, and am of the opinion that the probability of such a course being carried out by Congress, in whole or largely, is doubtful. I believe it will require an effort to secure any striking concessions from the present unequal and heavy tariff on many of our products.
I am led to this conclusion for three reasons.
First. The belief common here that this country has been very generous to the United States in custom laws; that our people do a large and profitable business here; that the balance of trade is in our favor, and that it requires " free wool” to place any credit on our side of the account.
Second. The fact that 75 per cent of the revenues of the Republic come from its custom-house, considering the large expenses the Government has to meet and the improbability of any change being made in the direction of a more equitable system of general taxation than now exists, it would seem to indicate that the custom-house will still be looked to as the main source of income.
Third. Should the illogical and unjust system of applying ad valorem duties to arbitrary and fictitious values be done away with, it would necessitate, if the present customs revenue be maintained, a complete revision and advance in the present tariff rates; this, I believe would appear to people here to be a step in the wrong direction; it would also oblige a revision of the present Government method of calculating the value of imports, which is responsible for the prevalent idea of the extent and value of our trade. I am not prepared to believe the present Congress will go to any such length, although I am informed that the Government tariff bill when presented will be vigorously attacked by several Members of Congress who are outspoken in advo. cating low duties and more equitable general taxation.
I am, nevertheless, clear that an earnest effort should be made to have present evils, where they affect us, corrected so far as possible.
With that purpose in view, I at once acted on your telegram of the 7th instant, and addressed to the foreign office, on the 11th, a note concerning the subject, accompanying it with three statistical tables showing the status of our trade with this country, the errors of the Argentine statistics with reference thereto, and the excessive and unjust duties exacted from some of our largest export items to this country. To the copy of this note and inclosures herewith attached, I respectfully call your attention, trusting the presentation made will meet your approval.
Referring again to the subject of the Argentine statistics with reference to our exports to this country, I feel sure that a careful perusal of the tables inclosed will justify my suggestions that Consul Baker should be instructed to use great cantion in embodying them in his reports, inasmuch as such a course gives a quasi indorsement and certificate of good character to their errors when published in our Consular Reports.
A reference to Consul Baker's reports and a comparison of the figures given by him as to our trade here, taken from the Estadistica de la Republica Argentina, with our Commerce and Navigation for the same years will clearly illustrate the reason for the belief existing here as to the immensity of our trade. I have, etc.,
WILLIAM I. BUCHANAN.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 49.)
Mr. Buchanan to Señor Costa.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Buenos Ayres, August 11, 1894. Mr. MINISTER: I have the honor to inclose herewith for the consideration of your excellency the tables referred to in my note of the 8th instant.
It is especially gratifying to me to know that the subject of closer commercial relations between this Republic and the United States is one regarding which your excellency and the distinguished minister now representing this Government in Washington bave given so many and such kindly assurances of interest and good will.
The expressions en generously made by your excellency of the wish of this Government to do all that it consistently can to encourage the people of the United States in extending their commerce here have been transmitted to and are most kindly remembered by my Government.
Under such circumstances I deem it only necessary to briefly call your excellency's attention to the conclusious easily drawn from the tables inclosed, feeling that the burdens now placed on some great items of the imposts of the United States into this Republic by reason of high duties and fictitious custom-house valuation will be equitably, fairly, and promptly adjusted.
It seems desirable, in view of the erroneous impressions existing among the people of this Republic regarding the extent of the trade of the United States with your country, to first call your excellency's attention to Exhibit A.
I can only account for this belief among your citizens on the theory that it is based on the assumption that the figures given out by your statistical office regarding this subject are correct.
I am sorry to say these figures are so much at variance with the United States statistics, as they apply to our imports here, that I have been at a loss to understand how your statistician reaches conclusions só manifestly erroneous and misleading.
I have given the subject careful study, knowing the method used by the statistical office of the United States in determining values to be the same employed in applying ad valorem duties, namely, basing calculations on the current market price in the country of origin, and am forced to two conclusions :
First, that your statistics of the value of imports from the United States used the erroneous and fictitious values placed on our goods by your custom-house law as
a basis; and, secondly, that your statistician has charged to the United States the entry trade of Canada and possibly some other countries.
His figures given in the Estadistica de la Republica Argentina for 1892 are exceedingly unjust to the commerce of my country, as they convey the belief that the balance of trade was largely against the Argentine Republic during that year, when the contrary was the fact.
They are again unjust because they give color to the belief among your citizens that our trade is very large and profitable, and from these beliefs results the idea that the United States have decided advantages in this commerce, in return for which they have not dealt as liberally by the products of this country as they should have done.
The facts evidenced by the United States statistics given in Exhibit A show that the balance of trade for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1892, was $2,415,310 in favor of the Argentine Republic; that during that year 73 per cent of the commerce of this Republic entered the ports of the United States free of duty as against 6 per cent of the commerce of the United States entering the Argentine Republic free of duty.
Believing in the doctrine that the greatest commercial freedom should be enjoyed by all peoples, your excellency will appreciate my gratification on the extent of your country's trade in the United States and of the generous reception now accorded your products by our laws.
This generosity and the evidence now being given of the wish of the Government of the United States to deal with the subject of commerce on broad ground will, I feel sure, be responsively met by your excellency's Government in every consistent manner where wrongs exist.
It is not necessary for me to say that my Government remembers kindly the treatment accorded in a large way on one line of unanufactures, wherein the United States are large producers and wherein they have indirectly been enabled to return to aid in the development of your agricultural greatness. Exhibit B gives in detail the statistics of both countries as they apply to the imports from the United States into this country for the same year covered by Exhibit A. This table will bear close study, as it contains in the totals of some groups enormons differences, which illustrate graphically the unjustness of your system of custom valuations as applied to some of our products, notably in the case of lumber. To Exhibit C I desire particularly to call your excellency's careful attention. The illustrations there given of the burdens placed on some of the large items in the commerce of the United States with this country, by reason of the application to them of a system of valuations utterly inconsistent with their worth in the markets of origin, will, I feel sure, strongly suggest to your excellency's sense of fairness and equity thé justness of insuring a careful and satisfactory revision, both in the duty and the valuation, on many items entering into our commerce with this country.
Indeed, I am so certain that it is but necessary to have the subject brought to your attention, as I am now doing, to secure the desired modifications and corrections that I will not add to the force of the figures given any further argument, reserving such explanations and comments as may seem proper for the personal interview I hope to have the pleasure of having with your excellency regarding the subject.
It is inconsistent with the generous treatment now accorded the products of the Argentine Republic by the United States, with the generous actions of your excellency's Government heretofore regarding the same general subject, and equally so with the commendable and worthy desire on the part of your excellency's Government to see still greater freedom accorded in the markets of the United States to Four prodncts, to believe that your excellency's Government will allow great items in the existing trade of the United States in this country to be burdened by high tariffs, unjust valuations, and consequent excessive duties.
I am, therefore, not prepared to accept the view that any request is necessary to secnre for the yellow or pitch pine of the United States the same tariff rates applying to spruce pine, and a valuation closely related to its market price in the seaboard markets of the United States to secure for kerosene, lubricating, and cotton. seed oil more consistent duties than now imposed, and to have extended in a broad and mutually advantageous manner the classitication of agricultural implements and farm machinery, including farm wagons therein.
These changes, with others that will suggest themselves to your excellency as wise, beneficial, and to the mutual advantage of both countries, will add greatly to the enlargement of the trade of the Argentine Republic in the United States.
I should be highly pleased to be able to cable my Government at an early day that this Government will, in its tariff bill to be presented to Congress, continue its policy of encouraging the commerce of the United States and will most amply, generously, and equitably deal with the questions affecting it as herein submitted.
I am at your excellency's disposal to confer with reference to this subject and avail, etc.,
WILLIAM I. BUCHANAN.