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THE LoRDs' Report on For EIGN TR.A. D.E. By the lords' committees appointed a select committee to inquire into the means of extending and securing the foreign trade of the country, and to report to the house; and to whom were referred the minutes of the evidence taken before the select committee appointed in the last session of parliament for the like purpose; and also the several petitions, papers, and accounts which had been referred to that committee; and also the several petitions presented in the present session of parliament on the subject of foreign trade:— Ordered to report, That the committee have met, and have proceeded in the inquiry, which had been entered upon by the said committee appointed in the last session of parliament, into the state of British commerce with Asia, including as well that which is carried on with the territorial possessions of the honourable East India Company, as that with the independent states in the same part of the globe. In the conduct of this inquiry, the committee have not thought it necessary to direct their attention to the commercial concerns of the East India Company, as administered by the court of directors with a view to the interests both political and financial of that corporate body, further than was necessary to elucidate the present state and future prospects of free trade, as affected by existing regulations. This subject, therefore, naturally divides itself according to the various restrictions to which different descriptions of commerce in these regions are now subjected by law;

that to the territorial possessions of the company being carried on by license only from the company; that to other parts of Southern Asia (China excepted), and to the islands of the Indian ocean, by license from the board of control; that to China being entirely prohibited to all British vessels but those in the actual employment of the East India Company; and the whole trade confined to ships of a certain fixed amount of tonnage. The trade which is carried on by license with the territories of the East India Company is confined to the presidences of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta, and the port of Panang. Some inconveniences and injury to individuals are stated to have arisen where circumstances have made it desirable to change the destination of vessels from one of these ports to another, after their arrival in the east, in consequence of the delay attendant upon obtaining a permission to do so from the local government.— This, indeed, may be obviated by obtaining licenses including the above named ports generally,which have been sometimes applied for, and do not appear to have been refused. But the system of requiring licenses does not appear to be attended with any public benefit; and a fee is charged for each of them. A more material advantage might probably accrue to the free trader from being permitted to trade with other smaller ports on the coasts of Coromandel and Malabar, where the company have already collectors of the customs established, who might effectually counteract an illicit trade; whereby a wider field of adventure may be opened, and an additional stimulus to commercial

commercial intercourse afforded to the native inhabitants. It would, however,be necessary in this case to provide by regulations, which it could not be difficult to establish, against any abuse of this extension of privilege by British vessels carrying on the coasting trade, in which there is every reason to believe they might successfully compete with the native ships, which have hitherto been considered as enjoying a monopoly of that trade, of which the East India Company could not reasonably be expected to deprive their subjects as long as they are precluded from carrying on the direct trade to Europe in Indian-built vessels. It must be observed, however, that the coasting trade is now open to vessels of other nations, those of the United States not being excluded from it; and instances have been stated to the committee in which the Portuguese flag has been allowed to pass from one port to another carrying on trade, from which British European ships are excluded. The committee cannot dismiss this branch of the subject without observing, that although it is difficult, from the great fluctuation which the free trade to the peninsula of India has experienced since it has been admitted upon the terms of the renewed charter granted to the East India Company in 1813, to estimate fairly the precise amount of its increase, it must be admitted that its progress has been such as to indicate that neither a power to purchase, nor a disposition to use, commodities of European manufacture is wanting in the natives of British India, whilst the minute knowledge of the wants and wishes

of the inhabitants, acquired by a direct intercourse with this country, would naturally lead to a still further augmentation of our exports. The greatly increased consumption cannot be sufficiently accounted for by the demand of European residents, the number of whom does not materially vary; and it appears to have been much the greatest in articles calculated for the general use of the natives. That of the cotton manufacturers of this country alone is stated, since the first opening of the trade, to have been augmented from four to five fold. And the taste of the natives for such articles may not improbably have been created in some instances, and extended in others, by that very glut in the market which has doubtless by its excess and consequent lowering of prices, frequently defeated the speculations of private merchants. The value of the merchandise exported from Great Britain to India, which amounted in the year 1815 to 870,177.l., had in the year 1819 increased to 3,052,74ll.; and although the market appears then to have been so far overstocked as to occasion a diminution of nearly one half in the exports of the following year (1820), that diminution appears to have taken place more in the articles intended for the consumption of Europeans than of natives; and the trade is now stated to the committee, by the best informed persons, to be reviving. When the amount of population, and the extent of country over which the consumption of these articles is spread, are considered, it is obvious that every facility which can, consistently with the political interests and security of the Company's dominions, be given to the private trader for the distribution of his exports, by increasing the number of points at which he may have the option of touching in pursuit of a market, cannot fail to promote a more ready and extensive demand. If the restriction of trade to vessels of the burden of 350 tons and upwards, in all seas and countries within the limits of the East India Company's charter, has any tendency to check the operations of the private trader in a direct commerce with the dominions of the East India Company, it can hardly fail to operate still more as an impediment to his exertions in seeking new channels of commerce, or in extending those which already exist with other countries and islands in the same part of the globe. Here a field, in a great measure new, would be opened by the free admission to trade of vessels of a smaller burden. It is stated to the committee by persons who have been most interested in forming a correct opinion upon the subject, that in a trade with the native powers in the Gulf of Persia, along the Red Sea, and on the eastern coast of Africa, as well as with the islands and countries to the eastward of the Company's dominions in Asia, small vessels would be employed in preference to large, from the nature of the navigation, the great value and small bulk of some of the articles, as well as the description of markets where such trade would be carried on. Some apprehension indeed has been stated to exist, that vessels of that description might be exposed to frequent depredations from pirates who infest those seas; but it does not appear that there is any difference in the

rate of insurance required from large and small ships; if there is a risk, however, the private merchant might safely be left to con

sider how far it applies to his par

ticular case; while the American trade in those seas, which is carried on as well in vessels below as above the burden of 350 tons, is not stated at any time to have suffered materially from such dangers. It may be remarked, that although the native governments of India have been generally supposed to be unfavourable upon system to foreign commerce, no recent instance of such disposition has been adduced; the French, on the contrary, are stated to have been remarkably successful in some recent attempts to open a commercial intercourse with Cochin China; and the recent knowledge which has been acquired of the manners and habits of the inhabitants in some of the islands of the Malay race, leads to a much more favourable opinion of their character and aptitude for civil and commercial intercourse than was

previously entertained. The maintenance of a free port eligibly situated amongst the Indian islands under British protection, which the magnitude of our establishments in that quarter of the globe may enable us to support at much less expense than any other nation, may be attended with the greatest benefit to commerce and civilization. The importance of such a station, and the quick perception of its advantages formed by the native traders in that part of the globe, may be estimated by the rapid rise of the port of Sincapore during the year that it has been in the possession of the British government, and opened

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opened for the purposes of general trade. The population, which had before scarcely amounted to 200 souls, in three months increased to not less than 3000, and now exceeds 10,000 in the whole; while 173 sail of vessels of dif

ferent descriptions arrived and

sailed in the course of the first two months.

“The commerce with China is carried on by the East India Company, in whom the sole and exclusive right of trading with the ports of that empire, as well as the sole and exclusive right of trading and trafficking in tea, to and from, all the islands and ports between the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan, is now vested by law. The value and extent of this trade has naturally attracted the attention of the private merchant; and although it could not be contemplated that the East India Company would willingly relinquish so important a privilege, an earnest desire has been expressed, that the British free trader might be permitted, even previous to the expiration of the charter, to embark in those branches of the trade which the company neither carries on itself nor appears to be immediately interested in, and in which the only competition to be encountered by the British merchant would be that of the foreign trader. : “Of this description may be considered the trade in tea and other articles between Canton and Foreign Europe; the tea trade within limits of the Company's 'charter, exclusive of the ports of the Chinese empire; and the trade between Canton and the Western shores of North and South America. * 1821.

“The hopes entertained by merchants and others, who have the best means of information, of benefit to commerce from such an extension of its freedom, as well as the apprehensions felt by persons of great experience in the direction of the affairs and in the service of the East India Company, of the risk with which such an extension may be attended to their political and commercial interests, will be found fully stated in the evidence and documents contained

in the Appendix. “On the one hand it is confidently stated that the low rate of British freight, and other advantages possessed by the British merchantman, would enable the British free trader to enter into an immediate and successful competition with those of other countries, and more particularly of the United States, by whom these branches of commerce have been carried on for some years past with every appearance of progressive increase and prosperity; that thus a portion of Europe might be supplied with tea by the British trader; that the export of furs from America, which now takes place even from the British territories in American vessels, would be carried on by British shipping; and that at all events that portion of the eastern trade which is carried on by the export of British manufactures in American vessels, would fall into the hands of the British merchant, with greater opportunities of extending it, afforded by a more direct intercourse; on the other hand it is stated to afford reasonable ground for alarm, that the seamen, who would be admitted under such circumstances to the port of Canton, (Y) might might probably be of a character so different from that of the seamen employed on board the vessels of the United States, and be subject to a discipline so inferior to that which prevails on board of the larger description of vessels employed in the service of the East India Company, that disputes might take place and excesses be occasioned, which might produce fatal consequences, by awakening the jealousy or exciting the anger of the Chinese government. . “It is also apprehended that the admission of new competitors into the market might lead to some deterioration in quality or enhancement in the prices of teas, which are now regulated by arrangements made previously to their coming into the market, between the servants of the company and the Hong merchants, who enjoy a monopoly of the sale of that article. “To what extent such hopes or such apprehensions might be realized in the progress of a trade which has never yet been permitted to exist, it is difficult perhaps to form an accurate judgment. The most natural, and indeed the only means of forming one, must be derived from the circumstances and progress of the foreign indedent trade, and more especially that of the vessels of the United States with the port of Canton. That trade, although carried on in vessels of nearly the same description that would probably be employed by the British merchants, É. continued to flourish without being productive of injurious consequences, either to trade in general, or that of the East India Com in particular. It is *::::A; it would not have done

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so, had it not been for the protection and other advantages derived from the establishment of the Company's factory at Canton; but no satisfactory reason has been assigned why the British free trader should not derive the same benefit from its countenance and protection, to which he certainly would not be less entitled. It must also be observed, that the circumstance which has princi, pally been relied upon as constituting the difference between the character of the American and British seaman—namely, the former having a share in the profits of the voyage—applies only to that portion (not a large one) of their trade with Canton which is employed in the export of furs from North America, and might be expected to apply in the same degree as far as respects that portion of trade to British vessels if permitted to engage in it. It is admitted also that all danger arising from disputes is greatly diminished, if not entirely removed, by the abolition of the custom which permitted seamen to go, at particular periods, in large bodies, and under no control, to enjoy liberty days

on shore at Canton. “In the course of the last few years the imports of the United States into China (comparing an average of the years 1804-5, 18056, 1806-7, with an average of 1816-17, 1817-18, 1818-19, being the last years of which the committee have received an account) appear nearly to have doubled. It is alleged that the principal part of these imports consists of metals and other articles which the merchants in the United States have a greater facility in procuring than those of other countries: there

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