Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IV: CONDITIONS OF EXPORT - The Comedy of Protection
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CHAPTER IV: CONDITIONS OF EXPORT - Yves Guyot, The Comedy of Protection 
The Comedy of Protection, trans. M.A. Hamilton (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1906).
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CONDITIONS OF EXPORT
Export to England—High-class wines—Champagne—Belgium—Need of commercial honesty—The wine-growers ought to support my immediate programme.
In the export of so-called vin ordinaire to England, Gironde bears the predominant share, as the figures for 1903, an average year, prove.
The gross total is 1,628,000 gallons, worth £1,480,000, for the champagne wines.
The followers of Méline, dreading any breach in Protectionist régime, are very contemptuous of the over-production of inferior wines which they have caused. “What does a tax of 2s. 6d. on sparkling wines and 1s. on still wines in bottles matter? It cannot affect the exporters of expensive wines, e.g., Champagne, Bordeaux, and Burgundy. Or, if it does, at the price at which they are sold, 2s. 6d. on champagne or 1s. more or less per gallon, cannot make much difference.
Even if the premises on which this reasoning is based were correct, its conclusions would be false. If a modification in the tax creates an English demand for Gironde wines, the wines of lower quality will profit by the opening of the home market Nothing can be more fallacious than the attempt to shut up different sorts of products in watertight compartments; such divisions do not exist in a free state of commerce: there is a continual endosmosis and exosmosis between different qualities of the same commodity, which varies supply by means of countless ingenious combinations to meet the demand of consumers on the one hand and the eagerness of producers to sell on the other. Combinations must be honest; that is understood. My long and varied experience in England, Belgium, and the United States has proved to me again and again that there is nothing so sure to extend the market of our high-class products, and especially of our brandies and expensive wines, as the belief in the honesty of French traders. Any suspicion excited by the mere appearance of incorrectness produces effects that act harmfully on our whole production.
The popularity of champagne is not merely due to the fact that it is a delightful, exciting, soul-stirring wine, capable of rousing the most sluggish and cold-blooded of men. The brand is inviolate; when the cork is out the bottle must be drunk, and if you ask for Pommery Greno you are sure that you get what you pay for. Champagne inspires complete confidence, and a great deal of its popularity is due to that.
The best customers of our most expensive wines are the Belgian connoisseurs, men of exquisite taste in wines. Honesty is the best, the necessary policy in the French wine trade, above all others. But for our best wines we must go further than that; must sacrifice the mediocre harvests of the best vineyards, sell them off under some other undistinguished name, keep the true name for the really good years. They must be sold for their value: it is not their cheapness, but the reliability of their quality, that makes customers believe in them. “Then,” says one follower of M. Méline, “what difference can a 2s. duty make? None at all, surely.” On the contrary. However small the duty, it produces an effect, and an effect which people try to escape. They send out wine in casks instead of bottles, and then they are liable to all sorts of miscarriage.
And moreover, we have not got to consider our best wines only. The exportation of Gironde wines in casks is more important than that in bottles, which proves that the larger part of its clientèle want wines of moderate price. With the existing duties it is impossible to extend its consumption, and leads people who take port or whiskey to enjoy French wine. And yet to ensure the market for our best wines we must teach people the habit of drinking vin ordinaire!
They must be taught by drinking wines which are what they profess to be, so that they can come to really good wine with confident appreciation. For any one who drinks wine daily a Customs duty cannot be matter of indifference; and vice versâ to wine-growers who want to extend their custom. That is why I count on their support for the realisation of my programme: “Abolition of the surtaxes on extra European goods imported from a European country, and of the surtaxes on goods of European origin imported from a country other than that of origin, in return for a reduction of English duties on wines.”
The Gresham Press,
UNWIN BROTHERS, LIMITED,
WOKING AND LONDON.