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PARAGRAPH 270_FISH IN OIL.
BRIEF OF HARVEY & OUTERBRIDGE, NEW YORK, N. Y.
The COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. Gentlemen: The subject of this brief, under Schedule G, is that portion of paragraph 270, which reads:
Fish in packages containing less than one-half barrel, and not specially provided for in this section, 30 per cent ad valorem."
Paragraph 272: "Herrings, pickled or salted, smoked or kippered, one-half cent per pound.”
Paragraph 273: "Fish, fresh, smoked, dried, salted, pickled, frozen, packed in ice, or otherwise prepared for preservation not specially provided for in this section, three-fourths of 1 cent per pound. Fish, skinned or boned, 17 cents per pound. Mackerel, halibut, or salmon, fresh, pickled, or salted, 1 cent per pound.
Argument is herewith submitted for the removal of the existing duties and placing on the free list the products of the fisheries of the Colony of Newfoundland.
We recommend and urgently appeal for the removal of the duties now imposed under these sections.
We lay particular stress on the removal of the duty from fish, fresh, smoked, dried, salted, or pickled.
(a) Any duty whatsoever on fish, dried, smoked, salted, or pickled, is imposing an onerous burden upon and increasing the cost of living to the poorest class of citizens in the country, among whom almost exclusively the consumption of this description of fish is confined.
(6) The Newfoundland fisheries produce no halibut, hake, cusk, or ling, or other similar descriptions of fish, of consequence, save only cod fish, and smoked, dried, salted, or pickled codfish from that country consumed in the United States is eaten almost exclusively by the laboring classes.
(c) Newfoundland is too far away and communication too irregular and uncertain to permit of the export of fresh codfish to the United States.
For the same reason and because of the character of the Newfoundland cure, dry, salt, and pickled codfish does not compose any considerable proportion of the fish prepared in this country in more attractive forms for consumption in the United States, which reach a wider distribution and a higher class of trade.
(d) Newfoundland codfish, by reason of its necessarily harder cure than the American, is better adapted to and more particularly prepared for exportation to Mediterranean and southern hot climates, and by far the greater portion of all that comes to the United States is again exported to foreign countries either by immediate transportation in bond or by withdrawals from warehouse.
Thus, under Table 12, Statistics of Commerce and Navigation, United States of America, the New York customhouse shows the value of immediate transportation in bond shipments through United States ports from Newfoundland for the last three years of completed statistics as follows: 1909..
$685, 351 1910.
641, 868 1911..
502,000 Whole Table 19, Bureau of Statistics, Department of Commerce and Labor, shows the imports for consumption for the same three years were: 1909...
$258, 216 1910.
116, 737 1911..
252, 464 The total revenue collected on the above items for consumption, calculated at three-fourths of 1 cent per pound on the actual number of pounds shown by Table 19 of the Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Statistics, were:
PARAGRAPH 270—FISH IN OIL.
Whilst the duties under these paragraphs of three-fourths cent per pound on some classes, one-half cent per pound and 30 per cent ad valorem on other classes, are a substantial burden on the consumers, the total revenue derived by the Government is insignificant.
WOULD RESULT FROM
ESTIMATE OF INCREASE OR DECREASE IN IMPORTS
REMOVAL OF DUTY.
The only safe basis upon which such an estimate can be predicated is to refer to the period when the treaty of Washington was in force, when products of the Newfoundland fisheries were admitted free of duty. This period was between 1871 and 1886, but the Treasury Department's Bureau of Statistics only began keeping a separate record of imports from Newfoundland and Labrador into the United States in the year 1873.
On page 3362 of the Treasury Department's publication, Bureau of Statistics, for the 10 years from 1873 to 1882, inclusive, the total imports of all fish from Newfoundland then admitted free amounted to $1,389,931, or a yearly average of $138,993, while in the 10 years from 1886 to 1895, when the treaty of Washington had been abrogated and a duty imposed on fish, the total imports from Newfoundland and Labrador amounted to $1,453,560, or an annual average of $145,356, showing a slightly increased importation during the 10 years period when the duty had been reimposed.
This proves the statement earlier in this paper that only a limited consumptive demand exists for this character of fish in the markets of the United States, and that if we may predicate the future on the past, the removal of the duty might not materially change the volume of imports for consumption.
Fish, skinned or boned, now dutiable at 14 cents per pound, is not exported from Newfoundland.
There are no mackerel fisheries there and the amount of halibut is so insignificant that the exports to the United States for the year 1910 amounted in value to $5,107 and 1911, $4,726.
This leaves only salmon remaining of the items specified in paragraph 273, and the statistics of the Department of Commerce and Labor do not segregate this description, but include it under “All other classes dutiable,” the values of which, as shown in Table 19, were, in 1909, $15,876; in 1910, $10,781; and in 1911, $49,007.
There are no figures showing what proportion of these values were dutiable under one-half cent per pound, three-fourths cent per pound, or 30 per cent ad valorem, respectively, but calculating same on the very liberal basis of 30 per cent ad valorem, which is the maximum of the tariff, duty collected in 1909 under this head was not more than $4,762.80; in 1910, $3,240.30; in 1911, $14,702.10.
Herring is the only remaining product of the Newfoundland fisheries that comes into the United States in any considerable quantity, and the bulk of this is secured by American vessels and entered as the product of American fisheries.
The dutiable quantities imported and returned in Table 19, already referred to, were in 1909, 740,349 pounds, value $9,904, which, calculated at one-half of 1 cent per pound, gives a duty collected of $3,701.74; in 1910, 2,022,750 pounds, value $29,207, which, calculated at one-half of 1 cent per pound, gives a duty of $10,113.75; in 1911, 1,411,605 pounds, value $18,988, duty calculated at one-half of 1 cent per pound, gives a duty of $7,058.03.
The removal of the duty on salmon and herring would not, therefore, materially a ffect the volume of imports or materially decrease the revenue, but would decrease the cost to the consumer by the amount of duty.
RECIPROCAL TRADE CONDITIONS-EXPORTS FROM UNITED STATES TO NEWFOUNDLAND.
We submit herewith extract from Table 19, page 1101, Bureau of Statistics, Department of Commerce and Labor, showing total value of exports from the United States to Newfoundland and Labrador for the five years June, 1907–1911, as follows: 1907.
$2, 920, 349 1908.
3,587, 748 1909.
3,939, 643 1910.
4, 074, 802 1911.
PARAGRAPH 270_FISH IN OIL,
While on page 1100, same volume and table, total imports of all merchandise from Newfoundland and Labrador for the same years were: 1907.
$1, 478, 259 1908.
1, 169, 060 1909.
1, 148, 075 1910..
1, 229, 688 1911.
1,380, 935 It will, therefore, be seen that while the importations from Newfoundland have remained practically stationary and within normal fluctuations from year to year, exports have been steadily increasing and have almost doubled within the five years named, exports in 1911 being more than three times its total imports, and leaving a balance of trade in favor of the United States of $3,224,000.
This increase in export business has been largely brought about through the liberal policy of Newfoundland in putting upon its free list those articles which form the largest articles of exportation from the United States to that country.
We submit attached hereto a list of the articles imported from the United States and admitted free of duty into Newfoundland for the seven years 1906–1912, inclusive, showing an average annual value of over $1,577,111, or but little less than half of the entire average value of the exports from the United States for the five years in ques. tion thus admitted into Newfoundland free of duty. (See inclosure marked No. 1 inclosed herein.)
I would particularly call your attention to the items of flour, kerosene oil, oleo oil and lard, and machinery for use in industries, all of which are articles of which we have surplus production and for which we are most desirous of obtaining and keeping ex port markets, and together these form by far the larger values of the total exports to Newfoundland, and under its present tariff are all admitted there free of duty.
I am particularly referring to the colony of Newfoundland in this brief and suggest in accordance with statement 4 on your card of instructions that the phraseology of the present law should be changed so as to specifically exempt Newfoundland from other fish-producing countries.
I feel warranted in making this suggestion, because it stands in quite a different relation to the United States than other fish-producing countries.
First. Because of the favorable treatment it accords in its free list to the important articles of export from the United States, as above stated.
Second. Because of the general value of its trade in our favor.
Third. Because it produces no other large commodities which come in conflict with similar products in the United States, and therefore there are not the complications involving many or conflicting interests in the case of this independent colony which exist with some other countries, and there is the moral obligation to show a reciprocal spirit where such favorable trade conditions exist.
Lastly, however, and most impelling, is the opportunity, without depriving the Government of substantial revenue, of lifting what is a substantial burden from the humblest and poorest of our citizens.
That provision of paragraph 270 which reads "Fish in packages containing less than one-half barrel, n. s. p. f., 30 per cent ad valorem,” has occasionally resulted in a serious injustice to the innocent importer in the United States.
Administrative custom has fixed 200 pounds as the contents of a barrel or less than 100 pounds less than one-half barrel. Considerable quantities of dried fish on which the duty is three-fourths cent per pound is packed in packages to contain 100 pounds net. Though these may weigh as much as 102 pounds net when packed at shipping point in Newfoundland, they may frequently dry out over 2 pounds during transportation, and if found to contain at time of entry less than 100 pounds net are assessed 30 per cent ad valorem, which, on the average value of the product, would amount to materially more than three-fourths of 1 cent per pound, which the consumer must then pay or the importer lose, and because of this unavoidable fluctuation in weights we would recommend an administrative regulation that the net weight may fluctuate 10 per cent more or less from the one-half barrel standard without penalty. Respectfully submitted.
P. HARVEY & OUTERBRIDGE.
PARAGRAPH 270_FISH IN OIL.
Value of articles imported from the United States and admitted free of duty.
1,395, 766 1, 274, 082 1,401,017 1,866, 102 1,623, 274 1,798, 719 1,680, 819
BRIEF OF B. M. SHIPMAN CO., CONCERNING FISH IN OIL.
NEW YORK, January 14, 1913. Hon. Oscar W. UNDERWOOD,
Chairman Ways and Means Committee, Washington, D. C. Dear Sir: We beg to submit herewith subjoined a suggestion for the proposed new tariff bill, to cover paragraphs 270, 271, 272, and 273 in the present bilî.
We assume the proposed legislation will aim to reduce the present tariff on necessities, especially food products.
The present tariff on fish food products is most unreasonable, prohibiting the importation of many articles of the lower priced fish foods consumed by the poorer classes of our people.
Had the reciprocity treaty with Canada become operative, all fish foods (except Bardines) produced in Canada would have been admitted free. This increased trade with Canada, however, would have been at the expense of present established business with Norway, Newfoundland, Holland, Ireland, and Scotland.
The subjoined draft for the fish schedule reduces the tariff on codfish, haddock, pollock, hake, and all kindred fish one-third of the present rate. On mackerel onehalf of the present rate, putting all these fish in the same class as herring and making them all dutiable at one-half cent per pound.
Paragraph A covers sardines only. The fish known as sardines are the pilchard, caught off the coast of France, Spain, and Portugal, and the small bristling, caught in the North Sea and Norwegian waters. These fish, when packed in barrels in salt pickle, are dutiable at three-quarters of a cent per pound, but under paragraph B, subjoined, would be dutiable at one-half cent per pound; therefore we arrive at an esti. mate of 2cents per pound, as follows: 1 case of 100 tins, one-fourth pound each, 25 pounds, at one-half cent... $0.12} 1 case of 100 tins, one-fourth pound, contain i gallon olive oil, at 50 cents .50 24 cents per pound on 25 pounds........
621 This estimate would greatly reduce the cost of sardines to the consumer, and while we know it would increase the importation it would no doubt show a slight reduction in the amount of revenue now collected on sardines.
Paragraph B is intended to cover all salt and fresh water fish-fresh, frozen, or cured. It advances the duty on fresh-water fish from one-quarter to one-half cent per pound, and reduces the duty on all other fish except herring, mackerel, salmon, and halibut. The duty on herring is now one-half cent for pickled, salted, smoked,
PARAGRAPH 270_CAVIAR. and kippered, and the duty on mackerel, salmon, and halibut, fresh, pickled, or smoked, is 1 cent per pound. There is practically no salmon or halibut imported, as the United States are the largest producers of these two species in the world. The United States are heavy importers of mackerel, fresh and salted. This would mean a reduction of one-half cent per pound revenue, and we think the increased importation would not be very heavy.
On other fish, such as cod, haddock, pollock, hake, and cusk, the present rate is fixed in paragraph 273, which provides a duty of three-quarters of a cent per pound, but in paragraph 270 there is the following: Fish in packages containing less than one-half barrel and not specially provided for in this section, 30 per cent ad valorem." The general appraiser has decided that one-half barrel of fish is 100 pounds. Also there is another provision in paragraph 273 as follows: “Fish, skinned and boned, 11 cents per pound.”. These two provisions, 30 per cent ad valorem in packages of less than 100 pounds and 14 cents for boneless fish, practically prohibit the importation of any of the above. The revenue would be greatly increased under a duty of one-half cent per pound and would, we are sure, more than overcome the decrease of revenue caused by the reduction of duty on mackerel.
We have added the paragraph C to cover one of the fish products that is considered more or less of a luxury, viz, caviar, the duty on which is 25 cents per pound, and this we do not change. There are other preserved roe of fish, however, such as cod, haddock, and herring roe, used by the poorer classes when sold cheap. These should not be dútiable at more than one-half cent per pound.
We sincerely trust that you will give the above your consideration, and we wish to say we will be pleased to give you any further information we may have. Very truly, yours,
B. M. SHIPMAN Co.,
Per B. M. SHIPMAN. Paragraph A, fish known as or labeled sardines, packed in bottles, jars, kegs, tin boxes, or cans, 2 cents per pound of the net weight of the contents of the bottle, jar, keg, tin box, or can.
Paragraph B, all fish (except shellfish) not specially provided for in this section, one-half of 1 cent per pound.
Paragraph C, fish roe, known as or labeled caviar, 25 cents per pound, other preserved roe of fish for human food, one-half of 1 cent per pound.
TESTIMONY OF G. HANSEN, REPRESENTING THE RUSSIAN
CAVIAR CO., 170 CHAMBERS STREET, NEW YORK CITY.
Mr. Hansen was sworn by the chairman.
Mr. HANSEN. If the committee please, I sent by mail-or caused to be sent-a short brief which, to a great extent, embodies what I am going to say now. If it will help any I can have more copies of this brief sent to the committee, as many copies as there are members, but I do not know what disposition is made of the brief.
The CHAIRMAN. If you will hand the brief to the stenographer it will be published in the record, and it will be more convenient for the committee to read it in that form than it will be in a separate brief.
Mr. HANSEN. I will do so, and I will only take a few minutes' time on the subject. The article I am mostly interested in altogether is caviar. Caviar is simply the roe of the sturgeon. The roe is separated from the roe bag or sack and put in barrels with a certain amount of salt to preserve the roe. There is no secret about caviai. There is no halo about it, as there seems to be in the popular mind. I think the framers of the present tariff must have thought, as the people thought, there was a halo about caviar, because halos are rather scarce to-day and come high, and I think the duty on caviar is pretty high. Our main objection to the present duty is that