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b. The transit duties were abolished.
C. Reductions were made in railway rates. The new colonies set their markets open to the coastal colonies, but demanded for this a reduced cost of living on the Rand and other industrial centres. They demanded a reduction of through railway rates from the ports of the coastal colonies. All food imported from oversea ran on Cape and Natal lines before they traversed the boundaries of the new colonies — the Delagoa Bay line was the only exception. This position can better be appreciated when it is remembered that the distance from Cape Town to Johannesburg is 1,014 miles; from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, 714 miles; from East London to Johannesburg, 666 miles; from Durban to Johannesburg, 483 miles, while from Delagoa Bay to Johannesburg the distance was only 396 miles. The rates had to be reduced. The inland colonies had a very good hold on their maritime neighbours: they could always develop the Delagoa Bay line and divert the trade by so doing from the Cape and Natal lines. The coastal colonies gave up nearly a million pounds sterling in reductions. (1).
d. A tariff under which :
i. The necessaries of life were admitted free of duty, except where free admission was found to harm South African industries.
ii. Building materials were admitted free of duty or at a very low duty. This was necessary for reconstructive purposes in the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony where so much destruction was brought about by the war. Agricultural implements, machinery, mining plant, and other articles necessary for the country's industries were allowed duty-free importation.
üi. Luxuries such as narcotics and intoxicants, were heavily taxed.
iv. As regards, especially, the protection of South African industries, the following resolution was adopted at the Customs Conference: (2)
“That it be an instruction to the committee appointed to draw up a tariff [that] a due measure of protection be afforded to the products and industries of South Africa."
There was established inter-colonial free trade as far as possible. By Article 22 the Transvaal was allowed to
1. See Worsfold: Reconstruction of the New Colonies, Volume i, pp. 235 to 242; see also Milner's Financial Despatch of September 8, 1902. 2. See Minutes, Cd. 1640.
import duty-free any goods and articles, excepting spirits, the growth, produce or manufacture of the Portuguese province of Mozambique as under the agreement of the Transvaal with that colony. (See appendix iii).
Chamberlain and Milner, unable to convert their own people to their imperial doctrines, succeeded in carrying them into effect in a conquered country. At the Conference voting was by states, when the European population of the different countries stood as follows according to the census of 1904:
Cape Colony, 569,441 or 51 p. cent. of the whole population.
87,776 or 8 Orange Riv. Colony, 142,679 or 13 Transvaal,
304,917 or 27 South Rhodesia, 12,000 or 1
The Cape was against preference, and its population represented more than half the total white population of South Africa at the time. Natal had at the time of the Conference a political party in power which was protectionistic and very unpopular — the so-called “Country Party" -- while Lord Milner, of course, looked after the nomination of the representatives of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony. It is worth taking into consideration at the same time, that he signed the Convention agreement four times : as Governor of the Transvaal, Governor of the Orange River Colony, HighCommissioner of Basutoland and as High-Commissioner of Bechuanaland Protectorate. (1).
Briefly, then, the position now was as follows: The tariffs adopted by the Customs Conventions of 1889 and 1898 were not highly protective. It was left for the general South African Customs Union of 1903 to introduce a tariff not for revenue only, but with a definite view to the protection of South African industries. This Union comprised, besides the four colonies, Basutoland, Southern Rhodesia, British Bechuanaland and Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland, (the latter admitted October 11, 1904). There was established by this Convention (or, rather, Inter-Colonial Conference) :
1. As was stated above, the Convention came in force on July 1, 1903, and was to remain in force for 2 years from that date, and thereafter during twelve months from the day of notice of any of the contracting parties to withdraw from it.
(a) Free trade in South African produce; (b) A common tariff against the outside world; (c) A preference of 25 per cent. on British goods. After all, then, the much-desired commercial union for South Africa was attained. It took forces which were disproportionately large in comparison with the objects on which they were exercised, to accomplish this. Was there to be harmony after all ?
CONFLICTING INTERESTS ONCE MORE ASSERT
The South African Customs Union had to be renewed in 1906 — it terminated on June 30. As there was a severe depression in South Africa just at that time, it became necessary as is usually the case in South Africa, to secure a larger revenue from customs. (1). Natal and the Cape had to cope with ser financial deficits. Natal denounced the Convention, and accordingly a second Customs Conference met at Pietermaritzburg, the capital of Natal, in March, 1906.
There were many echoes of protection cries from all over the land before the Convention met. At a dinner of the South African Manufacturers' Association, Mr. Welton, the Cape Treasurer, said, that the position of Cape Colony as to preferential relations was that they would endeavour always to encourage trade with Great Britain, but the policy would not be carried to the point of injuring colonial industries. (2). Mr. Moor, M.L.A., Chairman of the Industries Commission, said at a meeting at Durban, that the Commission had heard of pathetic stories of attempts made to found industries in Natal, and it was obvious, that without the assistance of the Government, these industries were doomed. They had to have adequate protection, and in this matter, he believed, the Cape and the Orange River Colony were with them. (3). Similarly Mr. Smythe, the premier of Natal, in an address to his constituents said that “the policy of the Government at the forthcoming Customs Conference would be, firstly, to get increased revenue ; secondly, a tariff to protect industries, and, thirdly, to give preference to the products of Great Britain and the colonies. If these objects were attained, the result would be an everlasting benefit to South Africa." (4).
Mr. Hyslop, the Colonial Treasurer of Natal, said at Durban, in a speech delivered there on January 10, 1906, inter alia,
1. Egerton: Federations and Unions in the British Empire, p. 78..
that the Government desired protection for South African industries with preferential treatment of British products, whether “home” or colonial. (1).
The proceedings of the Congress of the South African Manufacturers' Association held at Cape Town, showed clearly, that there was a strong feeling for further protection in the case of most industries. The principal recommendations of the various trade sections appointed to suggest alterations in the customs tariff were: Duties were to be increased on timber and woodwork from 74 per cent. to 25 per cent. ad valorem ;. on confectionery the rate was to be 2d. per pound, and 15 per cent. ad valorem ; tinware, 25 per cent. ad valorem; manufactured leather articles 25 per cent. ad valorem, and so on. (2). There was also going on an agitation for more preference, and Dr. Smart, the leader of the Unionist Party, pleaded for a preference of 33-1/3 per cent. (3).
The Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce had referred to its industrial Section certain questions relating to the forthcoming Customs Conference, and this Section went so far as to report in favour of customs protection against competitive products, not only from over-sea, but from the other colonies in the Customs Union also! (4). This clearly indicates the rivalry that existed between the colonies.
On May 30, 1905, the general meeting of the Chamber resolved, that further effort should be made to reduce the high cost of living in the Transvaal, and that the Chamber would strongly oppose any alterations in the customs having for their object the protection or encouragement of industries of the coastal colonies, if such measures should work to the detriment of similar industries or tend to increase the cost of living in the Transvaal. (5). Likewise, at the general meeting in January, 1905, an amendment was carried which read: “That in the opinion of this Chamber it is desirable in the interests of this colony, that encouragement should be given to local industries. (6).
The candle industry particularly claimed more protection, because just prior to the Convention of March it had suffered severely “owing to the dumping of cheap candles from the continent," which affected the workers then employed most
1. “South Africa,” January 13.
5. Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce Report for the Year ending February 28, 1906, p. 24. 6. Ibid., p. 25.