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the neighbouring island of Haiti and Santo Domingo. In Haiti, the greater part of the French inhabitants had been massacred and the remainder deprived of their properties; while in Santo Domingo revolutions were almost daily occurrences before the intervention of the United States and their institution of a broad militarily controlled protectorate over that country. As a whole, the British West Indies have shown little readiness to adopt the policy of separation in any form.
While the subject of federating the British West Indies, together with British Guiana and British Honduras, has frequently been mooted, no practical scheme has yet been brought forward for adoption; in every discussion, however, which has taken place touching the possibilities of an organised colonial federation, a free parliamentary constitution has been regarded as a necessary preliminary. Considerable progress has been made during the past decade in the direction of securing greater uniformity in all matters concerning these colonies, while the question of closer trade with Canada has materially assisted to bring together the various units. The preference of 37 per cent. on British sugar, accorded some ten years ago by the Dominion, largely attracted West Indian produce to the Canadian market; but the value of the preference was reduced by the privilege given to the best refiners of Canada for three years, from 1909, of importing at the British preferential rates two tons of sugar for every ton of Canadian beet refined, and by the further privilege extended to Canadian refiners generally in the same year of importing foreign sugar to the amount of 20 per cent. of their requirements on the terms of the British preference, as a reply to an alleged combination of West Indian producers to raise prices.
The number of those who favour a stronger and wider commercial union between the Dominion and the West Indies, to be secured by means of an enlarged preference, grows in number and influence daily. It is considered in some of the islands that the agreement concluded in 1913 between Canada and the West Indies, by which preference was given to each other's goods, is not sufficiently comprehensive in its scope; this opinion, however, is not generally shared in Jamaica, notwithstanding the
isolated position which she occupies. In May 1920 the Legislature of that island negatived the proposal for an altered tariff having for its object a reduction of the existing ad valorem duty to one-half, in respect of all empire-made cotton and woollen goods. The chief difficulty seems to have been the anticipated loss to general revenue brought about by the reduction of the duty; and an important question yet to be decided is whether this loss can be best met by imposing new duties or altering existing ones. Another problem is how the policy of Imperial preference can be applied in respect of articles on the free-list and of goods subject to special duties. The last practical suggestion put forward was that a preference of 40 per cent. of the existing duties should be given to pure-cotton piece-goods made in the United Kingdom; this proposal, if adopted, would mean a duty of 10 per cent. ad valorem instead of 163 per cent. It was further recommended that additional preference should be given to pure-cotton piece-goods made in the United Kingdom entirely of cotton grown in the Empire, and that the duty on such goods should be 8 per cent. ad valorem—thus giving a preference of 50 per cent. The Committee of the Legislative Council of Jamaica, while putting forward this proposition, recorded its opinion that, in view of rising values, there existed no necessity to recommend an increase in any other direction on the tariff, to compensate for the reduction proposed.
If all cotton piece-goods made in the United Kingdom and shipped to Jamaica received a preference of 40 per cent., the net loss to the island's revenue would amount to about 8,5007.; if all the cotton goods made in the United Kingdom were of raw material grown in the Empire, and, in consequence, received the preference of 50 per cent., the revenue would lose more than 10,600., which large sum would be supplemented by the unknown amount lost by reason of any transference of the trade to the United Kingdom on account of the preference. Should the whole of such trade be so transferred and goods be allowed to enter under the category of 'goods made in the United Kingdom, but not made of British Empire cotton,' the granting of this preference of 40 per cent. and the payment of duty of 10 per cent. ad valorem
would involve a loss amounting to 55,000l., subject, however, to some small reduction dependent upon current prices and rates of exchange.
So far as the benefits attaching to preference accorded to the mother-country are in question, it has to be remembered that the adoption, in 1897, of Canadian preference on British goods was followed by a substantial and continuous increase in Canadian purchases of British manufactures; and the same upward tendency in normal times has been noted in other colonial markets where preference is granted. But in the absence of an enlarged and mutual preference which the West Indian colonies, inter alia, demand, the British share of their markets compares unfavourably with that of the United States as regards dutiable and free goods. Failing the adoption of a wider and more comprehensive policy of mutual preference between the United Kingdom and the colonies on the one hand, and between the colonies themselves on the other, our West Indian possessions must remain under constant pressure to enter into reciprocal arrangements with our transatlantic rivals, to our own serious economic detriment, even if it does not undermine the political unity of the Empire.
At this time, when men's minds are turned anxiously to matters overseas, the frequent placing of valuable colonial trade orders in the United States instead of in the United Kingdom has not unnaturally attracted unfavourable comment. For several years past, a large proportion of West Indian engineering and other contracts has gone to the United States or to Canada, for reasons other than purely geographical; the greater portion of rolling-stock and building materials employed on the Jamaican railways has been placed with firms in the United States. A recent contract of considerable value would have followed in the same direction but for the intervention of the Crown Agents, who ruled that a proportion at least of the order should go to the Dominion. The first contract to be so placed, however, was in 1920; in September of the following year a consignment, consisting of seven locomotives, wheels and frames for about 38 cars, bridge work, and about 5,000 tons of steel rails, was received at Kingston (Jamaica) from Canada. No portion of that island's
rolling-stock requirements seems to have been allotted to the United Kingdom. It is to be hoped that no similar policy will be pursued in connexion with other public undertakings contemplated, which will embrace in due time the construction of a first-class port at Kingston (involving an estimated expenditure of nearly 500,000l.), an extension of the sewerage system at Kingston (to cost 202,0007.), the electrification of the island's railway system (now postponed), and the construction of a large sugar central, which, with other installations, such as tramways, will involve a further outlay of 400,000l. In connexion with all these enterprises and with others, such as the enlargement of several existing factories, the United Kingdom should be fully capable of supplying what is required, and of carrying out the contracts in a manner equal to that which could be provided by engineers of any other country.
It is true that Kingston is not much more than 800 miles distant from the coast of the United States, while it is distant some 4,026 miles from the nearest port (Liverpool) in the United Kingdom. Given efficient and moderately-rated steamship transport, however, the United Kingdom could successfully compete, and could supply the West Indian colonies with practically all their economic wants at prices equal to those quoted by American manufacturers, even if delivery of the goods were, by reason of the greater distance, less speedy. Patriotic considerations, however, seem to have entered very little into the question. Whereas in recent years the United Kingdom supplied Jamaica with but 4.1 per cent. of the food, drink, and narcotics, the United States supplied 65.3 per cent. and Canada 20.8 per cent. In raw materials, the United Kingdom supplied 7.1 per cent., the United States 91.1 per cent., and Canada 14 per cent. Of manufactured articles taken by the colony the United Kingdom supplied 28.1 per cent., the United States 64.6 per cent., and Canada 1.9 per cent. On the other hand, exports from Canada of Canadian-made goods to the West Indies (comprising Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and other British West Indian islands) increased from $3,000,000 (600,0007.) in 1910, to $11,000,000 (2,200,0007.) in 1920; while imports into Canada from the
West Indies increased from $6,000,000 (1,200,0007.) in 1910, to $13,000,000 (2,600,000l.) in 1920.
How greatly trading figures have altered within a single decade may be gauged from the fact that, whereas in 1908 the United Kingdom supplied 41.5 per cent. of the colonies' imports, in 1918 the proportion had dwindled to 16.1 per cent.; and that, whereas United States figures already stood at 46-8 per cent. in 1908, ten years later they had increased to 67.6 per cent., Canada's share rising only from 7.1 per cent. to 9.6 per cent. Something in this shrinkage of United Kingdom importations must be attributed to scarcity of commodities and the increased cost in foreign markets. The case of imported flour, which forms the colony's principal import, may be cited as an instance. While average pre-war years showed an importation of 277,308 barrels, valued at 296,9767., an importation of a less quantity, namely, 154,471 barrels, in 1918, represented a value of 455,6907. In regard to exports from Jamaica, in 1917, the United Kingdom took 44.8 per cent. valued at 1,112,1167., and in 1918 50-2 per cent., valued at 1,347,9981. For those two years the United States took 28.1 per cent., valued at 694,7627., and 23.4 per cent., valued at 627,9501.; Canada took 15.1 per cent., valued at 375,042l., and 14.3 per cent., valued at $384,396 respectively.
Those who are acquainted with the needs of the West Indian colonies, and especially with those of Jamaica, feel convinced that imports derived from the United Kingdom could be very largely increased, while exports of native produce are also capable of expansion. In the first category British cotton goods, clothing, and boots, which are now almost superseded by similar manufactures from the United States, could be sold in Jamaica and other of the West Indian islands at prices certainly equal to, if not lower than, those of the United States. Building materials, hardware, and ironmongery, as well as machinery and engineering supplies, could be similarly dealt with. It would, however, be useless to expect any improvement of this kind until steamship service between the United Kingdom and Jamaica is rendered more frequent and rapid. Until such innovation has been introduced, the bulk of the islands' merchandise must continue to be derived from the United States.