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the introduction of mining after 1867, a factor was introduced which, when carried on to the exclusion of most other enterprises, is incompatible with orderly economic development. Mining wants a low tariff, while manufactures look to a high tariff. The general tendency, then, was, that a high tariff did not follow manufactures, but it was the other way about: manufactures followed an ever-growing tariff. Public expenditures were greatly dependent for their defraying on customs revenue, as direct taxation was almost impossible in such a sparsely-settled country. Cries for protection began to be heard in the eighties, when the Bond Party came on the scene, and were more distinctly heard at the beginning of the twentieth century, as we shall see later.
B. The Tariff in Natal.
Natal was colonized by the Boer emigrants, who left the Cape Colony in 1836, in an attempt to escape from British rule. After they had vanquished Dingaan, following his traitorous attack on their leaders, and had re-instated Panda in his place, they established the Republic of Natal. However, they were not allowed to develop the country according to their own ideals. They were annexed by England in 1843 at the request of Cape Town merchants, who had become excited at the idea of losing the trade with the interior when an American vessel arrived at Port Natal to open up trade with the interior. "Once leave them (the Boers] the port, and supplies will flow in abundantly; while the influx of foreigners of all descriptions will soon enable them, from its embarrassing bar and commanding bluff, to place it in a condition to resist all but a very considerable force.” (1).
At first the British occupation was confined to Port Natal, and the first time we know that customs duties were collected, was when these were collected by the Boer government at Pietermaritzburg on goods imported from the Port (Durban harbour). A certain Mr. Mesham was required on January 18, 1843, by Mr. Bodenstein, the Receiver of the Customs and Secretary of the Government of the Boers in Natal, to pay import duties on goods purchased by him and coming from Port Natal. Mesham complained to the commander of the British forces at Port Natal, Major Smith. Major Smith issued the following proclamation and appealed at the same time to
1. John Bird : Annals of Natal, Volume 2, p. 157 — letter by Major Smith, the commander of the British forces in Natal to Napier, the Governor of the Cape.
Governor Napier, of the Cape: "It having been officially communicated to me that a demand had been made at Pietermaritzburg for certain dues on goods landed at this port from British vessels on which customs and other duties had already been paid, and as such dues belong to the crown, and the levying thereof can only be done by its authority, I think it right to forbid the transmission of any goods whatsoever from this place to the interior, until it shall have been intimated to me that the illegal demand in question be given up.” (1).
When Napier heard of this, he wrote to Smith on May 19, that he should not interfere with the Boers if they resorted to “the measure of levying certain dues on goods carried inland." (2). Smith complied with these instructions on June 6, 1843.
There were, however, certain differences of opinion as to what Napier meant by asking Smith to allow the Boers to levy the duties “at Natal” for the carrying on of their “provisional government.” (3). By this he meant not at the Port of Natal, but at Pietermaritzburg. “His Excellency saw no objection to their taxing themselves by a duty upon the goods landed at Natal, when those goods were carried to the interior." (4). The Emigrants were accustomed to levy the duties at Port Natal, and upon this the payment of the expenses of their administration was dependent. The duties levied were: On brandy, liqueurs, etc., per gallon, 3 rix-dollars; on wine, per half-aum, 10s. ; wood and wood-work, 25 per cent; other goods, 3 per cent. Port dues were charged at the rate of 3d. per ton. (5).
The Secretary of the Council requested that they be allowed to levy those duties again at Port Natal, as by Article 7 of Governor Napier's proclamation of May 12, His Majesty "was pleased to leave the existing institutions of Natal undisturbed,” the duties were the means to these institutions. The British Commissioner at Natal, Advocate Henry Cloete, recommended this to Sir George Napier. In this way there was carried on a vacillating and uncertain policy with reference to the trade of Natal until on September 26, 1846, an Orderin-Council was issued for regulating the commerce and trade to and from Port Natal. The new tariff was on the same lines as that in force at the Cape at the same time. There were still
1. John Bird: Annals of Natal, Volume 2, pp. 153 - 157.
the discriminating duties, for example, sugar (refined), the produce of any British possession, paid 3s. per hundredweight; the foreign article paid 6s. Coffee, the produce of any British possession, paid 5s. per hundredweight; the foreign article paid 10s., and so on. Goods not enumerated, and of British manufacture, paid 5 pounds sterling per 100 pounds value; similar foreign goods paid 12 pounds per 100 pounds value.
Moreover, the privileges granted by the Act 8 and 9 Victoria, entitled "An Act to Regulate the Trade of the British Possessions, Abroad,” to foreign ships, were limited to countries having colonial possessions, and granting like privileges of trading with those possessions to British ships, or to countries which had no colonies, but placed the commerce and navigation of England and of the British possessions upon the footing of most-favoured-nation treatment. When it was deemed expedient to grant these privileges to the ships of any foreign country unconditionally, it was done. The country which had fulfilled the required conditions had always to be announced by Order-in-Council before any privileges were granted. (1).
These and other regulations indicate that Natal had a good dose of mercantilism before that policy was finally discarded. The tariff of Cape Colony was, with few exceptions, taken over and given to Natal. There were the differential duties, and what is more, among the duty-free articles were included casks, staves, hoops and coopers' rivets, which was surely done to aid the wine industry, which, however, did not exist in Natal, while the sugar industry was not yet started. The tariff of the Cape outstripped the Natal tariff as regards the rate of duty charged, on account of reasons which will become clear later. (2). The agricultural industry was also encouraged to a certain extent, and on June 27, 1848, another Order-in-Council was issued which exempted from duty on importation into Natal all agricultural implements. (3).
After the triumph of free trade in England, Natal's tariff became distinctly affected by the new tariff legislation, and what has been said of the tariff of the Cape Colony, which came in force under free trade conditions, might also be said
1. State Papers, Volume 34, pp. 448 -- 472. See also Holden's History of Natal, p. 164.
2. The Cape Colony was the mother colony of Natal. In 1845 Mr. West became Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, and Natal remained under the administration of the Cape Governor until 1856, when Natal got a Legislative Council of 16 members — 12 elected. Responsible Government was granted the Colony in 1893.
3. Mills: Colonial Constitutions, p. 162.
of the tariff which came in force in Natal during this time. (1).
In a despatch to the Duke of Newcastle dated September 30, 1861, Lieutenant-Governor Scott mentioned the fact that there was an increase of customs dues in 1860 over those of 1859 of 15,207 pounds sterling, of which sum 6,400 pounds were due to the imposition of a duty on agricultural instruments, which formerly were admitted duty-free. The same tariff of March, 1860, imposed higher duties on tobacco, soap, cigars, kaffir-beads and other articles in order to raise an annual sum of 7,500 pounds sterling to meet the outlay for the introduction of Coolies from India, chiefly for the sugar estates. (2).
By the law No. 1 of July 1, 1867, a new scale of duties came into force. Natal now made the duties on goods imported from over-sea considerably lower than those imposed in the Cape Colony. They were now only 6 per cent. of the declared value of all articles not free of duty or specially classified. Natal adopted this policy because it was to her advantage to secure as much of the trade of the interior Republics as possible. (3).
Even at this early stage Natal tried to encourage the sugar-industry, both the growing of the cane and the refining of the sugar. No duties were thus charged on casks, staves for casks, heading for casks, coal, coke, foodstuffs generally, hoop and hoop-iron, rice, — perhaps for the growing Coolie population - machinery for the manipulation of sugar, and other articles directly or indirectly connected with the new industry, which, together with cotton, grew to the exporting stage by 1864. (4).
These were the general characteristics of the Natal tariff before the Customs Union of 1898. Natal was in a very advantageous position as regards the “overberg" trade, that is, the trade with the two Republics, in comparison with the Cape Colony, with whom it competed for that trade. Together with certain native territories the two Republics formed an “arc focussing at Durban harbour." (5). Many articles were imported into Natal which could be manufactured there, and
1. Cf. British Parliamentary Papers for 1860, Volume 45, p. 48. 2. British Parliamentary Papers for 1862, Volume 36, pp. 54
3. Notes on Natal: an old Colonist's Book, pp. 219 — 220, and Theal: History of South Africa since 1795, Volume 5, p. 355.
4. British Parliamentary Papers for 1868 — 1869, Vol. 43, p. 34.
5. Natal: Official Handbook for 1886, compiled under the directions of the Natal Commissioners, p. 67.
though the scale of duties was very light in comparison with those in force in Cape Colony and in many other British possessions, those duties were high enough to provide, together with insurance, freight and other importing charges, an ample degree of protection to local enterprise as a set-off against the usual difficulties with which new industries in country have to cope, as well as against the greater scarcity and the consequent dearth of skilled labor.
Yet in spite of incidental protection to her industries, and the encouragement given to the sugar industry, one might safely say that Natal's tariff was imposed for purely revenue purposes. Her tariff was also enacted with a view to the interior trade, which has been mentioned above.
This divergent movement in the tariff of Natal and that of the Cape Colony, due mainly to revenue purposes in case of the latter, and to trade motives in case of the former, was arrested in 1898. Before we discuss the factors which contributed to this arrest, it will be desirable to take into consideration the position of the two Republics in their relation to the two maritime colonies.
C. The Position of the Two Republics.
In 1852 the Transvaal obtained its independence from Great Britain by the Sand River Convention, signed by the Transvaal delegates and Messrs. Hogge and Owen, the British delegates. By this Convention it was agreed that “mutual facilities and liberty should be afforded to traders and travellers on both sides of the Vaal.” (1).
On July 29, 1869, during the Presidency of M. W. Pretorius, a treaty of commerce and friendship was signed at Pretoria between Portugal and the Transvaal, whereby it was agreed amongst other things, that “the two contracting parties, wishing to place the commerce of the respective countries on the liberal basis of perfect equality and reciprocity, mutually agree that there shall be reciprocal freedom of commerce between their territories... This freedom of commerce... shall be extended to every sort of merchandise, excepting only arms and munitions of war of every kind, which articles shall be subject to the special custom-house regulations of each of the contracting parties." (2).
1. State Papers, Volume 54, pp. 1,112 et seq.