Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER III: THE PRINCIPAL GROUP OF INDUSTRIES IN FRANCE - The Comedy of Protection
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CHAPTER III: THE PRINCIPAL GROUP OF INDUSTRIES IN FRANCE - Yves Guyot, The Comedy of Protection 
The Comedy of Protection, trans. M.A. Hamilton (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1906).
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THE PRINCIPAL GROUP OF INDUSTRIES IN FRANCE
I. Numerical importance—II. Clothes and underclothes—III. Protection and linen goods—IV. Men’s clothes—V. Women’s garments (not silk)—VI. Eloquence of two prices—VII. Millinery and artificial flowers.
It is obvious from the preceding table showing the relative importance of different industries that the manufacture of stuffs, linen goods, and articles of clothing forms 20·47 per cent., i.e., more than one-fifth of the total industry of France. Of this industry the raw materials are cloth, cotton yarn and textiles, linen, and silk; it will therefore suffer from the rebound of protective duties on textiles. The first group, comprising the manufacture of stuff, linen, and clothes, employs some 1,340,000: according to the census returns 140,000 cutters; 60,000 readymade clothes makers; 614,000 dressmakers; 75,000 makers of hats and head-dresses, including 45,000 milliners; 23,000 flower and feather makers. Paris is the centre for nearly all these industries, which have the highest standard of wages. Is this due to Protection? We shall see that they are victims of Protection.
Clothes and Underclothes.
The export of clothes and underclothes stands ninth in the total of French exports. The following are the figures reckoned on an annual average over the three years preceding the 1892 tariff:—
The tariff came into operation on February 1, 1892. Passing over this and the following year to allow for the disturbances caused by a change in system, we find:—
That is, during the period following the 1892 tariff there was a fall, relative to the preceding period, of 18 per cent., and even in the second period a fall of 10 per cent.; that the excess of the average of the three years 1900-02 over the average of 1889-91 was not due to, but in spite of, Protection; and 1903 shows a return to the figures of 1894-96.
Protection and Linen Goods.
Looking at the exports in detail, we find the following figures for made-up linen goods:—
And this fall in our exports is not solely due to their exclusion by foreign Customs tariffs, but in part to our own tariff. In the article on Linens in the “Dictionary of Commerce,” M. Julien Hayem, a great wholesale linen manufacturer, says, “The duties which burden cotton textiles are practically prohibitive in the case of linen-drapery and shirt-making. The price of material, which is 41/4 or 51/2 or less in England or Switzerland, is doubled or trebled by the effect of the duty.” The Customs Controller, whose fate it is to put into operation a Protectionist tariff of a great number of items, has to make it arbitrary and irritating for fear of being accused of Free Trade leanings. “And the result?” asks M. Hayem. “It is practically impossible for any French manufacturer to introduce any of the really new materials which are fashionable in foreign markets. Should he do in spite of the exorbitant duties, he is faced with two almost equally irritating consequences: the home consumer has to pay a much higher price than is paid for the same goods abroad; abroad the manufacturer is at a great disadvantage compared to his foreign competitors. Unable to do anything, he sees orders escape him while for lack of raw material he has to keep his workmen in idleness.”
And the yarn industry was in just the same position. The French weavers of Little Armentières and Cholet declared that they could not produce linens equal to the Irish; even enormous duties on Irish linen did not encourage French manufacturers, but, as M. Julien Hayem asserts, “they extinguished the linen-drapery manufacturer for which linen was the raw material.” These quotations sufficiently demonstrate that protection to cotton and linen did not raise wages in the linen-drapery business; they suffered from it.
That the 1892 tariff did not increase the export of men’s clothes is proved by two tables; thus export
diminished because the French maker was handicapped by the dearness of his raw materials, in competition with a low cost of production.
In the case of women’s garments the lady’s travelling trunk is a secret means of exportation, as was proved at the time of the Exhibitions of 1889 and 1900; in the latter, according to the Custom House returns, although the showrooms had been very busy, the dress exports went down 25 per cent. The export of silk dresses, which had risen considerably, fell 57 per cent. in 1903 on the preceding years; and in 1904 it continued to fall. The rise was not due to Protection, but to an increase in the wealth of other nations which caused an increased expenditure on articles of feminine elegance, which the Parisian shops were better fitted than any others in the world to meet. Then came a change in fashion; perhaps it will change again and the export of silk dresses rise again. But our shops must sell at high prices because all the materials that they use are burdened by Protection. Far from helping, it hampers them; far from raising wages, it lowers them, because in the net cost the share taken by Protection is subtracted from wages.
Eloquence of the Prices.
I call attention to the following prices. Cotton textiles, unbleached, dyed, or printed, were rated for export at 1s. 7d. to 1s. 101/2. per lb; linen textiles from 1s. 3d. to 3s. 3d. These cotton and linen fabrics, when made up into shirts, collars, and manufactured goods, were rated at 32s. 5d., the difference being the price of the taste and skill of the maker, and the labour of the men and women who executed his design.
The export price of silks was in 1903, plain silk, 27s. 3d. a yard; figured or broché, 32s.; mixtures of silk and cotton, 14s. 3d. plain and 16s. 4d. figured. Silk dresses came at £15 11s. 6d; the difference in price is in the style, and the greater part of this difference between cost of material and cost of the finished garment goes in wages.
Millinery and Artificial Flowers.
This manufacture employs some 100,000 persons; and it stands tenth in the list of French exports at £54,400,000. Dependent altogether on the protected industries, it pays duty on the flour used for making paste, on the wire on which the flowers are fixed which are made of dutiable paper. In the Seine Department there is a falling off in the number of employés; 18,207 in 1896, it was only 16,865 in 1901. From the above statistics the conclusion can be drawn that Protection, restricting the choice of materials, injures these industries. They need free scope, and their expansion is hindered by Protection to those textiles on which they depend.