Page images

to come, while the general tariff of each country applicable to outsiders can be changed at will in the interest of the League.

The German duty on wheat was reduced from 5 marks to 3 marks 50pf., and a reduction benefiting Austria and Switzerland was made in the duty on cattle. Far more numerous are the changes introduced into the Austrian tariff, the increases. being nearly as many as the reductions. The duties on lace and embroidery, for instance, were fixed at 300fl., instead of 200fl.; on silk laces 500fl., instead of 400fl.; on twisted yarn 18fl., instead of 12fl.; on packing canvas 6fl., instead of 2fl.; on raw cotton yarn 40fl., instead of 34fl.; on bleached cotton yarn 50fl., instead of 45fl.; and so on, to keep out better English goods, and encourage Alsatian and other German produce. The reductions were far less sweeping, with the exception of linen, on which the reduction was from 80fl. to 40fl., and on pure silk goods, reduced from 400fl. to 300fl. per hundred kilos. duty on raw iron was reduced from 80 kreutzers to 65 kreutzers; on ingots, from 1fl. 60kr. to 1fl. 50kr.; on wrought and rolled iron and steel, from 2fl. 75kr. to 2fl. 50kr.; on iron and steel rails, from 2fl. 65kr. to 2fl. 50kr.; on railway wheels, from 6fl. to 5fl. 50kr.; on better class iron wares from 15fl. to 12fl. ; and on sewing machines, from 20fl. to 6fl., with the view of excluding American and English sewing machines in favour of those made in Germany. Altogether the changes were such as Austrian industry will be well able to bear, and at the same time will be of great advantage to Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium.


The following are some extracts from the Memorandum which was laid before the German Parliament on Dec. 6 in explanation of these Treaties:

"The Commercial and Customs policy of Europe during the last ten years has been largely founded on a system of comprehensive conventional tariffs on the basis of the Commercial and Customs Treaties of France with Belgium, Portugal, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland, and Holland in the first half of the last decade, to which other Treaties with Italy, Austria-Hungary, &c., were added. These Treaties to a large extent fixed the Customs duties of most of the European States for many years in a manner which conferred considerable advantages as compared with the autonomous general Customs tariffs of those countries. Germany had adopted this system only to a comparatively small extent, and concluded Commercial Treaties, fixing or reducing certain duties in return for corresponding concessions, only with Italy, Spain, Greece, and Switzerland. Germany merely reciprocated the most favoured nation treatment with most European and several non-European States. The Treaty of Frankfort determined the commercial relations between Germany and France. Germany, therefore, had kept her hands essentially free, but fully participated in the advantages of the European conventional tariffs, as one of the most favoured nations.

"This state of things, which secured to Germany important benefits, will cease on Feb. 1, 1892, when a complete revolution of European commercial policy threatens to take place, owing to the marked growth of Protectionist tendencies in France, Russia, and the United States. Germany's exports to Russia fell from 228 million marks in 1880 to 131 millions in 1887, and have increased very slightly since then, owing to the rise in rouble notes, which, however, was instantly counterbalanced by the raising of the Russian duties. As regards the United States, the M'Kinley Act greatly injured the import trade from Europe, in which Germany is largely interested. The nearer the expiry of the European Commercial Treaties, which afforded Germany numerous advantages, approached, the more urgent was it for her to decide whether she would adopt the Protection policy of the above States, which considerably favours mutual isolation, or secure for herself a decisive influence over the approaching changes of the European Customs tariffs by international agreement. She could not but choose the latter alternative."

After a brief account of Germany's commercial policy since 1879, the Memorandum continues:-" Germany's development into an industrial State of the first rank, the increase of her population, and the fact that the products of her soil do not quite meet the demands of home consumption, compel her to import large quantities of foreign raw materials and food, for which she must export, first and foremost, manufactured goods. The average import of raw materials from 1880 to 1890 was 2,406 million marks, or 1,357 millions after deducting the export of raw materials. In 1869, on the other hand, the corresponding figures were 2,818 and 2,033, and in 1890 even 2,966 and 2,120. The export of manufactured goods did not keep step with this large increase of the import of raw materials. The average from 1880 to 1890 was 2,260 million marks, and 1,211 millions after deducting the imported manufactured goods, but the corresponding figures in 1889 were 2,382 and 1,185, and in 1890, 2,482 and 1,286. Nevertheless, these figures sufficiently show what large interests are bound up with the German export trade, how deeply the working classes are concerned in it, and what an important factor it is in the prosperity of German industry and of German national economy at large. The total of the German exports in 1887 was 3,190 million marks; in 1888, 3,352; in 1889, 3,256; and in 1890, 3,409. This shows convincingly that we are not all-sufficient for ourselves, despite the increased capacity of consumption.

"The conclusion of new International Treaties on the most favoured nation basis only, without fixed duties, would make it possible for Germany to secure the home markets for home products, by Protective duties at discretion, but would not afford the slightest guarantee that foreign markets, which are indispensable to the German export trade, would remain accessible.

Considering the competition among all progressive States, which is becoming more and more keen with the increase of production and the means of production, lasting commercial intercourse between them is conceivable only on the basis of the rational exchange of goods, which, again, presupposes a certain mutual limitation of free control of Customs. In view of the prevailing politico-commercial tendencies Germany could not be sure of maintaining her export trade if she did not, by such limitations, afford other countries an opportunity of paying for the goods received, wholly or partially, in products of their own. The assurance of greater stability in Customs is as important as the establishment of more favourable relations between the markets, and is justly regarded by men of business as essential to the prosperous development of the international exchange of goods. The stability of Customs, which has been urgently demanded for years past, can, moreover, be attained only by fixing duties for a long term by Treaty."

The debate on the Treaties was opened in the Reichstag by General Caprivi on Dec. 9. He began by saying that a Treaty had now been concluded with Switzerland also, and he hoped to be able to place it in the hands of members that day. He added that the autonomous tariff of 1879 and the subsequent increase of the duties in 1885 and 1887 had had a very favourable effect on the industries of Germany. But disadvantages afterwards came to light, owing to over-production, which, simultaneously with the constantly-increasing importation of raw materials, and especially food stuffs-due to the steady growth of the populationshifted the balance more and more to the detriment of the Empire. This had to be remedied, not in the sense of the doctrinaire question, "Free Trade or Protection?" but so as to maintain and improve agriculture and industry, and especially in such a way as to find work for the workers. He repelled the attacks of the agrarian party with regard to the reduction of the duties on agricultural produce, saying that the present Government had done more than any other for agriculture by beating back the storm of last spring, which was strong enough to have swept away all the corn duties if the Government had yielded.

Any comparison of German conditions with those of England at the time of the abolition of the corn laws was out of the question. There were very few great landowners in Germany. Most of the proprietors had small estates, and had to strain every nerve, since they had, for the most part, bought their acres too dear; but they could, nevertheless, bear the reduction of the corn duty by a mark and a half. He was not of the opinion that agriculture suffered by this reduction. It was the State that suffered, for the duties raised the prices, not only of imported, but of home-grown grain. The reduction of the wine duty was based on similar reasons.

Manufactures, which Frederick the Great, even in his time,

called "the wet nurse of the State," needed a certain amount of protection, and the best way was to secure markets by means of treaties with other States for a term of years, based on mutual concessions. Such Treaties had been concluded with several States, and it was to be hoped that similar ones would follow, though the United States and Russia could hardly be expected to join. It was a historical fact that empires of such great extent invariably tried to close their frontiers, in a trade sense; and the course of events in Austria would probably show the same tendencies there. It was, therefore, necessary to unite the Powers of the Triple Alliance commercially as closely as had been done politically, for it was impossible for politically united States to wage commercial war.

The Chancellor went on to refer to an article in the KreuzZeitung which stated that the German Anti-Semites were trying to whip up the votes of Czechs, Ruthenians, Slavonians, and Slovacks, but not of the Germans and Magyars, in AustriaHungary against the Treaties, and stigmatised the attempts of this paper-which, he said, pretends to be more Prussian than the Prussian Government itself to excite foreign countries against the Fatherland as highly regrettable. In conclusion, he appealed to the patriotism of the members to pass the Treaties, which formed an inseparable whole.

The Treaties were opposed by Count Kanitz and the extreme Conservatives, and also by the Imperialist convert to bi-metallism and Protection, Baron Kardorff, who delivered a long speech against them, but added that he would vote in their support if they were concluded for five, instead of twelve, years. General Caprivi combated the idea that the home market had been neglected as compared with the export trade. He declared that every justice had been done it, but that it did not suffice, and the export trade must be increased. He showed that Protection had injured German industry, and remarked that the assertion that Germany was an industrial State should neither offend nor concern agriculture, which, on the contrary, ought to see that greater trade meant increased prosperity. He added that his statement regarding the commercial balances was not intended. to gain over either the Liberals or Baron Kardorff, but was merely the expression of his opinion.

The Chancellor went on to say that the question of the remonetisation of silver need not be considered for the present, as it was not one that could be answered in a minute, and Germany's relations to England and the United States rendered it especially inopportune. He held that the question could not be answered at all without England. He also pointed out that the reduction of the wine duty would benefit only the Italian "mixing" wines, for no such wines were imported from France. He concluded by saying that the parties to the Treaty would not consent to a term of only five years.

The most formidable opponent of the Treaties was Prince Bismarck, although he did not actually come to the German Parliament, but addressed the public through speeches to deputations and articles in the press.

In a speech to a deputation from Siegen he said :—“ If I went and opened my mouth in the Reichstag, I should have to oppose the policy of the day more strenuously than I can as yet reconcile with my position and antecedents. I must either hold my tongue or speak as I think. If I do the latter, it will be to an effect, at home and abroad, which I cannot justify to myself. I may be obliged to suppress this feeling, but to-day I can only say Nondum meridies.' If I went now to Berlin, and spoke in the interests of agriculture, I should only be answered, Vous êtes orfèvre, monsieur.' My scruples would be looked upon as interested, and the matter then be dropped. If I were there, I should speak more of politics, and more in the interest of labour than in my own-that of agriculture, which has grown accustomed to be the step-child of bureaucracy, and to have burdens laid upon it without mercy or knowledge."

The Prince then went into a very minute account of all the errors and disadvantages he saw in the new Commercial Treaties, and concluded by saying:-"I have served the State for fifty years, and was its leader for some decades. It is against my feelings publicly to oppose its rulers, as I should be forced to do if I were to speak in the Reichstag at all. Stronger reasons than those of to-day must arise if this repugnance is to be overcome. The necessity will probably not disappear, but I shall wait. . . . I shall delay my participation in the debates, however deeply I am grieved that for twelve years we shall be bound to conditions the effect of which nobody, not even their originators, can foresee."

In an article on "the situation" in the Hamburger Nachrichten, a paper known to be inspired by the Prince, after saying that the Treaties are being accepted for political rather than economic reasons, the writer remarked that the Treaties must not be regarded as a gain to Germany, but as concessions to her allies. "The fact that the Treaties are to remain in force longer than the political alliances-so that after the expiry of the existing Alliance Treaty, Austria-Hungary may be able, under the pres sure of the economic community of goods, to force us to give up the Eastern policy hitherto pursued by us and to join in her own plans in that quarter-seems to us of importance. It is the more possible, because we are about to widen the gulf that has been caused-through no fault of ours, it is true-in the economic relations of Germany and Russia; and this, under circumstances suggesting that the Imperial Government has ceased to attach value to the restoration of better political relations with that country. That Professor Delbrück, who recently asserted that it will be Germany's duty in the next great war to liberate the

« PreviousContinue »