The use of some form of customs duties is almost universal. In scarcely any country, however, is such undivided attention paid to the fiscal results as in England. In France the list of articles taxed is large, and the intention is to secure results other than fiscal. Food products, raw materials, and manufactured products are taxed, on some of which the rates are so high as to give practically absolute protection. The bulk of the revenue has come from comparatively few commodities, as coffee, sugar, corn, petroleum, and wines. There is no attempt to correlate the customs duties with the internal revenue duties, as is done in England. The present system really dates back to 1791, for it is that law, with modifications, usually for political or industrial rather than fiscal purposes, that is the basis of modern French tariffs.

The Italian duties, with a history much shorter than that of France or England, are nevertheless strongly developed. Duties upon articles of necessary use form the central part of the system, consequently the burden falls heavily upon the poorer classes. The German system represents a growth from the customs union which was formed before the political union of the German states. The system is characterized by a strong protectionist sentiment which has been directed toward such a diversification of industry so as to make the country self-supporting. A majority of the revenue which is received comes from comparatively few commodities, such as corn, coffee, wine, and tobacco.

If other countries were reviewed the same situation would be found - the use of a tariff system which seeks to combine fiscal, industrial, and political ends. In all the countries export duties, which in the earlier development occupied a comparatively important place, have been practically abandoned.

Additional Reading

Taussig, Tariff History of the United States. Dewey, Financial History of the United States.