Britain and the United States in the Caribbean: A Comparative Study in Methods of Development

By Mary Proudfoot | Go to book overview
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Chapter III
THE ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP

1. TARIFFS

The difference in status of the two groups of dependencies vis à vis their metropolitan powers is somewhat easier to define in the economic than in the constitutional sphere. In sum, in economic matters the United States dependencies are treated, to all intents and purposes, as a part, albeit not a favoured part, of the continental United States, whereas the British dependencies are generally regarded as wholly separate from the United Kingdom, although the post-war economic crisis has resulted in some modification of this traditional attitude.

This basic difference is reflected in a variety of ways. The United States dependencies are, for instance, within the United States tariff walls,1 whereas each of the United Kingdom dependencies decides on its own tariffs in its own legislature, although decisions taken are subject to approval by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in order to safeguard any international obligations which the United Kingdom may have undertaken on behalf of its dependencies. Local governments in the British islands are dependent for a large part of their revenue on this source. However, although the British dependencies are outside the British tariff structure, they are within the imperial preference system, a fact which has long moulded the pattern of external trade for the British islands. This system has kept up the price received for export products to which it applies, wherever Commonwealth demands have exceeded Commonwealth production. It has not, of

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1
Free trade between the United States and Puerto Rico was established in 1901. Prior to this date, Puerto Rico had been included in the United States tariff system in that the same taxes had to be paid on foreign goods entering Puerto Rico and the United States. In addition, a duty of five cents per pound on imported coffee had to be paid in Puerto Rico, to protect local industry. Fifteen per cent of the general tariff was imposed on goods going between Puerto Rico and the United States. Customs duties collected in Puerto Rico, and taxes on Puerto Rican goods entering the United States were put into a special fund, to be used by the President on behalf of the island.

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