Tariffs, constantly changing either in whole or part, have always been a source of confusion in international trade. In the United States a change in the tariff is generally preceded by a long debate in Congress, but in many countries modifications are made by executive order without preliminary warning.
During recent years the trade promotion bureaus of the important commercial countries have kept closely in touch with changes in tariff rates, but prior to the development of these organizations changes in tariff were lost in the pages of official gazettes or separate decrees.
In 1886 the Belgian government addressed a note to all foreign governments suggesting a conference for the purpose of establishing an agency which should translate and publish the tariffs as soon as they were enacted.1 This conference met at Brussels on March 15, 1888, and drafted a convention for submission to the several governments.2 In 1890 the Conference reassembled at Brussels, where on July 5 there was signed a convention which is still in force.
This convention provided for the formation of the "International Union for the Publication of Customs Tariffs," and the organization at Brussels of an Interna____________________