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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51

VI. — Conclusion

page 35


And now let us endeavour to draw a few practical deductions from the foregoing discussion:—
1.That the fact of a nation's imports exceeding in value the exports, indicates, other things being equal, that this nation is a creditor of some other country.
2.And, conversely, that an excess of exports, other things being equal, indicates that the nation is an indebted nation.
3.That, among the older States, those who are advancing in wealth are gradually increasing their excess of imports, while in those which are economically decaying, there exists either an excess of exports, or a gradual decrease in excess of imports; and that in proof of this we have only to examine the following figures, and to apply them to what is within common knowledge concerning the countries named:—
Great Britain, excess of imports, 1870, 59,000,000; 1880, 125,000,000.
France excess of imports, 1869, 3,000,000; 1880, 63,000,000.
Holland excess of imports, 1870, 7,000,000; 1880, 20,000,000.
Belgium excess of imports, 1870, 10,000,000; 1880, 13,000,000.
Germany excess of imports, 1869, 12,000,000; 1880, 6,000,000.
Russia excess of, exports, 1870, 4,000,000; 1878, 3,000,000.
4.That, among the younger nations, the United States stands out, at the present moment, as a great exporter on balance; but that, as she is a heavily indebted nation, she cannot avoid exporting on balance until she has redeemed her obligations, and has recovered her share of the ocean-carrying trade; and that, consequently, to point, as Protectionists do, to her 52 millions of excess exports as, ipso facto, a proof of the virtues of their system, is to draw an unwarranted and mischievous conclusion.
5.That the term "Balance of Trade," as commonly used, is a misleading expression, calculated to give rise to the most absurd fallacies.
6.That the "Balance of Trade," if there be such a thing, is in favour of, and not adverse to, Great Britain.
7.That this "Balance" is likely to be more and more in our favour.page 36
8.That the world is likely to become more and more indebted to us, and to pay us an annually increasing tribute in money, or money's worth.
9.That this state of things took its rise with the advent of Free Trade, and is distinctly traceable to it as a great efficient cause.
10.That the secret of our wealth lies in this, that our free imports give us an unmistakable advantage, as regards the element of cheapness, in the universal competition, and that the only way in which we can be deprived of this advantage is by other nations becoming Free Traders.
11.That it would be a very unwise thing, looking at it from a selfish point of view, to disturb this state of affairs by threatening other nations with hostile tariffs in retaliation for their prohibitory duties.
12.That if our threats were effective, other nations would immediately be put on the same basis as ourselves as regards cheapness of production, with a result, probably, anything but pleasant to us as traders, carriers, and manufacturers.
13.That if our threats were non-effective, we should, in this way, also put ourselves on a level with our competitors, with such accompaniments, however, as the following:—We should raise prices all round, and so diminish general consumption, and, consequently, production; we should diminish our industry, our trade, and our commerce, and thus impoverish ourselves and the rest of the world, and, in doing so, we should imitate the very policy we condemn in foreigners.
14.That Free Trade is the best, nay, the only possible policy for us as a nation.
15.That some time or other, as sure as the day succeeds the night, the nations will discover that in establishing Free Trade, they secure the greatest happiness of the greatest number, and thus make a practical advance to a realisation of the benevolent motto of the Cobden Club—

"Peace and Goodwill Among nations."

August 15th, 1881.