THE SUGAR BOUNTIES CONVENTION.
As frequent reference is made m our cable ' messages to the Bill now before the Imperial Parliament to give effect to the Bagar Bounties Convention, the question is often asked as to what it is all about. (Shortly stated, the object of the proposed legislation is to shut out from the contries joining the Convention sugar exported from countries which pay » bonus to sugar exporters. Countries having sugar-cane plantations, and those having large sugar-cane refineries, find themselves m danger of the extinction of their industries through their markets being flooded with beet-sugar, the exporters of which m France, Germany, and elsewhere, being largely assisted by the export bounty, are able to supply refined beet-sugar at prices vthich threaten to drive cano-sagar oat of the market. This would mean a serious blow to a large industry at Home where no loss than 51,000 persons find employment m the sugar refineries, and a still more serious blow to the Mauritius, India, West Indian Islands, and other sugar produoing countries, which hitherto have shipped enormous quantities of sugar to the English markets, and have been m return excellent customers to British manufacturers. Indeed many sugar planters have been ruined, and many more are threatened with ruin, as the consequence of the artificially-fed competition of beet-sugar exporting countries. The outcome of all this is thus succinctly explained by the " New, Zealand Herald " :— " In this state of affairs Lord Salisbury, moved by the complaints of the sufferers m England, invited the Continental exporters to meet m conference at the Foreign Office, m London. Baron de Worms, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Tradej presided, At this Conference} which held its first meeting on 4th Nov., 1887, the Powers represented were :— ' Great Britain, Germany, AustriaHungary, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, and Sweden. The Conference thus included all the bounty-paying nations, and all the Great Powers except the United States of America. After considerable discussion they condemned the eystem of bounties, and each delegate undertook to recommend his Government to take the requisite action to give effect to this condemnation. A convention was, therefore, signed m May, 1888,' submitted to the Powers represented and, with certain conditions, ratified by them, on August 80th, 1888. By it Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Russia, and Spain agreed to exolude rigidly all sugars from countries that continued to pay bounties after 1891. Austria-Hungary declined to sign till assured that all other European nations would do so. France took the same course. Brazil— a large sugar-producing country— and Sweden reserved entire freedom of action. Denmark declined to concur as it would involve her m breach of treaties. The United States were out of it from the first, although the attach} of their Legation m London attended the Conference m order to report proceedings to his Government, Thus , only six Powers are distinctly pledged, and their final action will depend a good deal on that of the great Bugar-prodacing countries still to come m. Another special commission is to meet this month to consider the position, and to make a further report to the Governments concerned , as well as to devise the necessary legislation to give effect to the * boycotting ' of other countries m this matter oh which the Conference had practically resolved. Naturally the Bill now before the House of Commons to give effect to England's part m the decisions of the Conference, is exoiting keen debate and much opposition. It was introduced on the 11th April by Baron de Worms m a very effective speeoh. He pointed out the ruin which the system of bounties was bringing on a large number of our fel-low-countrymen m the old country and m the sugar-growing colonies. He referred to Queensland as alone able to supply all Europe with sugar, a pretty large order, as Great Britain alone consumes to the value of upwards of eighteen million pounds sterling per annum. Bussia, Germany, Holland , and Belgium are very large producers and exporters of beet sugar. So are France, Spain, Italy, and Austria-Hungary. The projeot is, to give such of these nations. as may abandon the bounty system free access to the British and to each others' markets, but to rigidly exclude all who don't join. A majority of those who sign tjije Convention is to'deoide on the course 'to be pursued m each, cage, and the opponents' of the Bill hold that ft is. wrong to give power to this majority to say, for example, whether England shall be debarred from buying sugar from the United States, Brazil, or any other pountry which may refuse Jo gq into the Convention, the sugar-profluoing countries, both Russia and Germany, this view of the subject is of no moment, but to England it mar be serions. Of course the simple way to meet the difficulty would be to put a high duty on sugar coming from bounty fed countries. The bounty is from 20 to 80 per cent on the yalue, and a duty of that amount would s"b!M e the question. But this would be a direot breaoh of the principles of Free Trade to which 9re»t ßritain is devoted, and the Convention is the subptitiate. Sijr Thomas Farrar and the Board t)f Trade oppose 'the Contention as ' disguised protection.. ' They'fiold that it restricts England's freodoni m buy|ng where she likes, and will serionsly embarrass and injure her. The Bill has, we observe by the latest cable, b>en deferred, and will no doubt h « 1W %W n tf deputed before it becoroea law. If it should do so, and any of the beet-pro-ducing nations aro shut out from the English market wo may expect to see them turning their attention to Australia and New Zealand. That is the point on which interest has been raised m Australia, and with their refineries and increasing plantations m Queensland and New South Wales the intorost is easily understood."
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