GREAT BRITAIN AFTER THE WAR.
proposal of the London Chamber of Commerce, accepted by
the Imperial Council of Commerce, is for tariff-walls of at
least four different heights:—U) Lowest of all to British
colonies; (2) .somewhat higher to Allies; (3) higher still to
neutrals; (4) so high as to be unscalable to Germany, Austria,
Turkey, Bulgaria, and their possessions. But note that .each
of our Allies will have its own ideas upon the sort of tariff
which it would like to see imposed, and that what will suit
one nation will by no means suit another, any more than
what will suit one interest will suit another in each particular
country. We may ask, moreover, whether the five or six million
Co-operators and Trade Unionists of this country, and the
working people of other countries, will accept tariff arrangements made over their heads by diplomatists. Will our
Dominions accept taxes upon colonial wool, feathers, cheese,
butter, corn, wood pulp? Will Belgium welcome our
Customs Duties on Belgian glass; or France our taxes on
Parisian hats and the dairy produce of Normandy and Brittany? Will Holland and Belgium, with their great ports of
Antwerp and Rotterdam, refuse to trade with Westphalia?
How are the manufacturers of Alsace-Lorraine to carry on
without the raw materials drawn from across the frontier?
Can Russia restore her credit if she declines to sell wheat to
Germany? ! And if we are to put differential duties on goods
from Germany and Austria, how are we going to treat the exports coming through Rotterdam and Antwerp, how is Italy to
deal with the stream of imports through Switzerland, how is
France to carry on trade with Belgium, and Russia with the
Scandinavian countries, which were already, before the war, so
largely the trade routes of German exports?" Moreover,
we are insisting on an indemnity at least for Belgium. Is
there any way in which an indemnity can be paid or reparation
made except by an export of commodities, direct or indirect,
immediate or postponed—an export which becomes an import
to the country to which it comes.
E.—Why Not Free Trade?
" Let us all bring fresh minds to fresh problems." (Mr.
Austen Chamberlain, speaking on the Tariff Question in the
House of Commons, May 18, 1916.)
May it not be legitimate to ask whether, in view of all the
ethical and economic interests involved in the world's future,
the coming of peace should not usher in Free Trade between
Great Britain, her Empire, and her Allies? Is there any