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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 56

"Fair Trade" and "Retaliation." — Leaflet No. XXXIX

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"Fair Trade" and "Retaliation."

Leaflet No. XXXIX.

Cobden Club Motto

Retaliation is a useless weapon in our hands.

To lower foreign tariffs was not the sole or principal object of the authors of our present policy. They would have adopted that policy had they known that no foreign tariff would be lowered.

All duties are impediments to trade; the fewer duties, the fewer impediments. We can remove our own duties; we cannot remove our neighbours'.

No tariff is an absolute barrier; and a Free-Trade country has such advantages in production that it can compete with a Protectionist country, even for the home market of the latter.

Exports involve imports; all Protectionist countries desire to export, and must therefore import. Where a Protectionist country exports to another country, the second country must pay in goods, if not directly to the Protectionist country, indirectly through some third country.

There are many free and many neutral markets, and in all of them a Free-trading country has advantages over a Protectionist rival.

Protection has not, so far as we can judge, advanced trade and manufacture in France, Germany, or the United States, but the reverse.

The trade of a country depends on many things besides Free page break Trade. Free Trade only removes impediments. What can be claimed for Free Trade is that a country is better with it than without it. The general prosperity of the United States does not affect the question. The United States suffer more than ourselves from temporary depressions; and these depressions can often be traced to their protective system.

For the above reasons, there is no fear of our losing our market, and the case for Retaliation fails.

Retaliation must, in its immediate consequences, be injurious to ourselves.

Retaliation is calculated to defeat its own object, and to provoke further Retaliation.

The Cobden treaty affords no ground whatever for Reciprocity or Retaliation.

The simplicity of the Free Trade position is obscured by the vastness and complexity of modern business. But it is in truth simple in the extreme. Very much that has been written on the subject is only an expansion of the following elementary truths:—
1.Every man knows better what he wants to buy and sell than his Government can possibly know for him. He will buy and sell to the best advantage, if left free to buy and sell as he chooses.
2.Every one who buys, sells at the same time. His purchase is really an exchange. The money he pays for the goods which he buys is really an order given to the seller for other goods. The more buying the more selling.
3.As regards dealings between inhabitants of the same street, the same village, the same town, the same country, no one thinks of disputing these truths. But they are just as true as regards dealings between inhabitants of different countries.

No one who is master of these simple and obvious truths will be misled by Protectionist sophisms.

[All the above statements are most clearly and fully proved in Sir T. H. Farrer's book, entitled "Free Trade versus Fair Trade,"published by the Cobden Club. Price 2s. 6d.]

Messrs. Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage, London, E.C., supply this Leaflet in packets of 100, price 1s.