Josiah Child (1630-1699) – A New Discourse of Trade
(Act of Navigation established a Mercantile trade system within the British Empire, effectively barring outside trade. It encouraged nascent industries to grow & relied on expanding territory through establishing colonies abroad. At least that was the theory… Josiah answers objections to the Act)
- Act of Navigation – beneficial to the country,
especially to captains, ship owners & sailors. But many people think that
the drawbacks outweigh the benefits
- This was an excellent move. Without it, we wouldn’t even have half of the trade, shipping & employed sailors we have at the moment.
- Even though there’s some down side to the Act, it can be repaired with amendments. Since not everyone is on board with it, I’ll make my case for it
- Objection 1 – People tell me while I always say
great things about the Dutch in their trade, they point out that the Dutch have
no such act, so why should we?
- Response – The Dutch missed a trick in doing this because it’s the same way with providing for your army in the field. We need the act to provide us with resources. But the Dutch don’t really need fortresses & castles like we do. Their interest rates on loans are so low that they might get foreign borrowers. We in England don’t like money leaking out of our system to help would-be enemies
- Objection 2 – While merchants & owners
benefit tremendously from the Act, these make up a small number of men in
comparison to the size of the country as a whole. We ought to be able to trade
with foreigners to keep prices & interest rates lower.
- Response – That might be true if you just look at the current levels of profit. But our kingdom, being an island, needs to have a very strong shipping industry. In order for that industry to thrive, they need to make a decent profit – something that the Act provides them. Since the profits are high, the manufacture of ships & employment of sailors is rising rapidly. To pull back from the Act now would be to pull the carpet from under the entire industry’s feet.
- Objection to Several Parts of the Act of
- Objection 1 – American farmers & colonists
say the act will ruin plantations if they can’t sell their wares to the best
markets & not be forced to buy all commodities from England
- Response – If they weren’t kept to the rules the act establishes, in a few years, they may be taken over by other empires, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch… This act establishes a mother-child relationship between the colonies & England. They might be speaking French in a generation or 2.
- Query 1 – Wouldn’t it be better to allow the Irish to send their cattle over to England than ban them from doing so? On top of the foreign trade ban, this could have been a boon to commerce
- Query 2 – Wouldn’t it be a good addition to commerce to allow free trade of commodities within the Empire, even if you’re going to ban exterior trade?
- Query 3 – Wouldn’t this prevent the export of Irish wool which often goes over to France & Holland, damaging both Ireland & England?
- Query 4 – Wouldn’t this be a fortress or law to secure the whole of Irish trade to the British?
- Query 5 – Wouldn’t this make advantageous through increase of trade & shipping what was previously damaging to the Empire?
- Objection 2 – Norway & Estonia complained
that this Act damaged their trade. The Danes, Swedes, et al., are allowed by
the Act to import timber to pay for all the increase production of ships.
- Response – Blips in the effects of the Act
shouldn’t make us hate it altogether. We should allow the import of Estonian
timber & materials with a tariff on any of it used for any ships captained
by, manned by or built by Englishmen & Irishmen
- Reason 1 – The Scandinavians will soon dominate trade in timber & shipbuilding with us that we will need to put a tariff on them in order to preserve British shipbuilding
- Reason 2 – Some 200 foreign ships were used by British merchants before the Act was passed due to cheaper shipping prices. This is due to the high price of timber in England. Once the playing field has been leveled, we will see British production increase
- Reason 3 – Even though the Act is 17-18 years old, we still don’t see much in the way of increase in British production. It won’t be until the Act is amended that we will actually see domestic production take root.
- Objections to the proposition of shutting out
all foreign shipping are:
- Objection 1 – If we ban foreign ships, we won’t
have the capacity to maintain trade levels & commodities won’t reach their
destinations or will do so expensively
- Response – The price won’t matter as much because the money will not be leaving the country – all profits will go to Englishmen. If a lack of ships does persist, we’ll build English ships.
- Objection 2 – If these Acts are followed through
on in England, won’t other countries take retaliatory measures on us?
- Response – The Italians, Spanish & Portuguese don’t care. The French can’t complain because they do the same thing as us. The Dutch & Danes already pay higher rates amongst themselves. The Swedes ought to do it for their own sake because they’d benefit from it. Other countries are so small that they can’t really afford to play the tariff war games.
- Objection 3 – Won’t the Danish king cut off
trade with us?
- Response – He might at first but he’ll calm down & scale back any impositions on British goods. Their tariff rates are already pretty high, so it wouldn’t be very different to right now.
- Objection 1 – If we ban foreign ships, we won’t have the capacity to maintain trade levels & commodities won’t reach their destinations or will do so expensively
- Response – Blips in the effects of the Act shouldn’t make us hate it altogether. We should allow the import of Estonian timber & materials with a tariff on any of it used for any ships captained by, manned by or built by Englishmen & Irishmen
- Objection 1 – American farmers & colonists say the act will ruin plantations if they can’t sell their wares to the best markets & not be forced to buy all commodities from England