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Synopsis of the Tariffs and Trade of the British Empire

Synopsis of the Tariffs and Trade of the British Empire

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Excerpt from Synopsis of the Tariffs and Trade of the British Empire: Prepared, and Presented to the Commercial Sub-Committee of the Imperial Federation League, by Its Chairman Sir Rawson W. Rawson, K. C. M. G., C. B

It is generally admitted that the establishment of a Commercial Union between the different parts of the British Dominions would form one of the strongest elements of a permanent political union of the Empire. A few enthusiasts may have dreamed of, or longed for, a common British Tariff. But they could have had but little knowledge of the difficulties which render such an arrangement impossible while the present system of taxation exists throughout the Empire; and the majority of those who desire a closer commercial union, and believe it to be within the range of practical politics, have a very indistinct knowledge of the materials with which they have to deal, and of the obstacles they would have to encounter in coming to any adjustment which would be acceptable to the many members of the Empire. The chief object of the present essay is to supply this information, as the first step towards the removal or reduction of those obstacles.

The Tariffs of the United Kingdom and of the several British Possessions, framed upon such different principles, and aiming at such a variety of economical and financial results, present a very chaos to the enquirer, and appear to be beyond the possibility of juxtaposition and comparison. Such, however, is not the case; and with the view of supplying information which is absolutely necessary in the investigation of the question of a British Commercial Union, and will also be useful for a number of other purposes, a series of Tables has been prepared, giving -

1°. A synoptic view of the character of the Customs Tariffs of Duties, both on imports and exports, in each part of the British Dominions, with the proceeds of such Tariffs in relation to the population, the general revenue, and the trade of each.

2°. A comparison of the rates of import duty charged upon the principal articles of produce and manufacture in each part of the British Dominions, brought up to the latest date, and including the changes known to have been made in 1887.

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