WOULD WRECK JEWELRY INDUSTRY
One of the Bad Features of the Free-Trade
Metal Bill Vetoed by President Taft
North Attleboro (Mass.) Chronicle
Charles T. Paye has written a communication to the Chronicle which tells the effect upon the jewelry trade of the metal Tariff, which has passed the lower branch of Congress over the veto of President Taft through a combination of Democrats and Progressives. If the bill passes it would be a severe blow to the jewelry industry, as it opens the American markets more to foreign manufacturers. Mr. Paye is well qualified to write upon the subject, because of his membership upon the Tariff committee of the New England Manufacturing Jewelers' and Silversmiths' Association. His letter reads as follows:
To the Editor of the Chronicle:
How many of our citizens in reading the news from Washington last night realized the importance to them of the action of the House of Representatives in passing over President Taft's veto, the new "Metal Schedule," or "Steel and Iron Bill," so called.
"The general impression prevails, because politicians wish it to prevail, that this bill, which has been vetoed by President Taft and passed over his veto by the House of Representatives, has reference to steel and iron only, and that they are after the Steel Trust.' "
This is far from being true, however, for this schedule includes 59 other commodities, including, unfortunately for our local industries, manufactures of gold, silver, German silver, brass, copper, aluminum, and all other metals, when not specifically provided for in any other paragraph of the Tariff.
It is under paragraph No. 199 of the Tariff, the final paragraph in the "Metal Schedule" or "Steel and Iron bill" so called, together with paragraph No. 448 in the same act, "The Jewelry paragraph," so called, that the jewelry and silverware industry depends for Protection.
Paragraph No. 199 in this so-called "Metal Schedule," makes the duty on manufactures of gold, silver, German silver, brass, copper, aluminum and all other metals, when not specifically provided for in any other paragraph, 45 per cent.
The above mentioned rate of duty is not sufficient to Protect domestic goods, as witness the large and ever increasing importations of gold, silver, German silver, brass and white metal novelties since January 1st of this year, larger now than ever before, and during a time when our own workmen have been none too steadily employed.
The bill, passed yesterday, by the House of Representatives, over President Taft's veto, proposes to reduce this duty from 45 per cent, to 25 per cent.
This rate is 10 per cent, lower than the rate in the Wilson-Gorman tariff, on goods in the class made in all of our local factories.
The goods now being imported in large quantities every week, and paying 45 per cent, duty, and which under this new "Steel and Iron bill" so called would be reduced to 25 per cent., includes, among many other items, these:
Flatware in sterling and plate.
Holloware in sterling and plate.
Vanity cases, coin cases, card cases, memo tablets, rouge pencils, tooth picks, chatelaines, lip salve holders, pocket knives, bon bon boxes and all goods of this character, usually referred to under the general term of novelties and made in silver, German silver, brass, white metal, etc.
Mesh bags in brass, white metal and gun metal.
Toiletware, manicure goods and desk ornaments in silver, German silver and brass.
Bead bags mounted in silver, German silver and brass.
Mesh in strips in brass and white metal.
Picture frames, clocks, thermometers, mirrors, etc., mounted in silver, German silver and brass.
All jewelry made in copper.
Chains in brass and white metal, when imported without bar swivel or spring ring. (On reels.)
Fancy vest buttons in all metals.
Jewelry of all kinds when set with imitation jet.
Hat pins with stone tops.
Medals and badges in all metals.
Rosaries in gold, silver, German silver, brass and other metals.
All cheap jewelry of whatever kind, sold by manufacturers at $2.40 per gross or less.
This is not a list of articles that may be imported at 45 per cent., but that ARE being imported, and furthermore, this is not a complete list, but a partial list.
The "Steel and Iron bill," passed yesterday by "The House" over President Taft's veto reduces the rate of duty on these and all similar goods to 25 per cent.
If through any combination in the Senate, this body should also pass this bill over the President's veto, it would then become a law, and would be the greatest blow the local industries have ever received and this is meant to include Attleboro and Plainville, equally with North Attleboro.
The increase in importations with this reduction would be tremendous, and at the expense of the local factories.
They call it "The Steel and Iron Bill," and they tell us they are after the "Steel Trust," but they are not telling us what they are doing to the jewelry and silver ware industry incidentally. Ours is one of the other commodities, about which nothing is said, which number 59 in all.
Charles T. Paye.
Source: American Economist - 30th August 1912