Reciprocity Agreement of 1854
The Reciprocity Treaty was signed on June 6, 1854, by the Governor General of British North America, Lord Elgin, and the U.S. Secretary of State, William Marcy. It was passed by the U.S. Congress in August. The treaty is expected to remain in force for 10 years. After that, it could be terminated by both parties with one year`s notice. During the Civil War, Britain quietly cooperated with the southern states. At the end of the war, politicians in the North were angry with Britain for its support for the South. They sought to end reciprocity with the British colonies. This, combined with other perceived shortcomings of the treaty, prompted the United States to terminate (repeal) the treaty on March 17, 1866. Canada`s first free trade agreement with the United States was actually not the 1988 Free Trade Agreement, but the 1854 Elgin-Marcy Reciprocity Treaty, which established a period of free trade between the Anglo-North American colonies and the United States that lasted until 1866. If you think the current negotiations are long, it apparently took eight years to negotiate the 1854 treaty between Britain on behalf of its North American possessions and the United States.
Faced with the end of British imperial preference, when the British Corn Laws, tariffs on food imported into Britain, were lifted in 1846, the Montreal-based Canadian business community looked south. Traders threatened to push for annexation to the United States if London did not negotiate a free trade agreement. In 1854, they got what they wanted through the Elgin-Marcy Treaty, which listed most Canadian raw materials and agricultural products, particularly timber and wheat, as goods to be authorized duty-free in the American market. The treaty ended the 21% U.S. tariff on imports of natural resources. The last major attempt at reciprocity was negotiated by the Laurier government in 1911. This reciprocal agreement provided for free trade in natural resources and the reduction of tariffs on a wide range of other goods. The agreement was approved by the U.S. Congress. However, it was rejected by Canadians, who ousted the Liberals in the general election of September 21, 1911.
In Canada, there has long been a dispute over the impact of the treaty. In the period following the introduction of the treaty, there was a sharp increase in Canadian exports to the United States and rapid growth in the Canadian economy, particularly in southern Ontario. Even decades later, Canadian economists saw the era of reciprocity as a happy time for the Canadian economy. Canadian exports to the U.S. increased by 33% after the treaty, while U.S. exports increased by only 7%. Ten years later, trade between the two countries had doubled. Under the provisions of the Elgin-Marcy Treaty [better known as the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854], the United States and the Anglo-North American colonies (Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland) each lifted tariffs on a large list of natural products. The most important were cereals, flour and bread, animals, meat, fruit, fish, poultry, tallow, coal, wood and wood. American fishermen were included in colonial fishing on the Atlantic coast, while British subjects received a similar privilege in the East American inshore fishing north of the thirty-sixth parallel.
British and American ships had equal access to the St. Lawrence River, Canadian canals, and Lake Michigan. The treaty undoubtedly gave considerable impetus to trade between the United States and the colonies, which more than doubled between 1854 and 1865. However, the prosperity of this period was largely the result of other factors, including the rapid development of the region around the Great Lakes and the American Midwest, the construction of railroads, and the American Civil War. The trade developed under the treaty was called “cheap trade”: the main products imported into Canada – grains, flour, meat, livestock, coal, etc. – were largely the products that the colonies exported mainly to the United States. As discussed in a previous article, Britain and the United States negotiated fishing rights in the early 19th century. One of the most important agreements between the Anglo-North American colonies and the United States on trade, tariffs and fisheries was the Mutual Treaty of 1854.
Under this agreement, negotiated by the Governor General of British North America, Lord James Bruce Elgin, and Secretary of State William L. Marcy, the provinces offered the United States the right to inshore and coastal fishing and the use of the St. Lawrence River. In return, the United States established free trade with the provinces by imposing tariffs on natural products such as grains, meat, products, coal, wood and wood. Reciprocity, a term often used in Canada to refer to an agreement with the United States that provides for reciprocal tariff reductions. The agitation for reciprocity became of political importance in Canada in 1846 during the period of discontent that followed the repeal of the Corn Laws by Britain. The British government was therefore encouraged to start negotiations in Washington on a mutual agreement involving the five North American colonies. The dispute over The North Atlantic fisheries rights of Britain and the United States has made negotiations on reciprocity more difficult, but has heightened concerns between both governments about finding a comprehensive solution.
In June 1854, a random combination of circumstances, including the decline of opposition from northern protectionists and the southern pro-slavery party, allowed Lord Elgin and W. L. Marcy, the U.S. Secretary of State, to negotiate the treaty. The reciprocity agreement was increasingly rejected over the next decade. American protectionism, exemplified here in the arguments of Middle Eastern farmers, led to the abrogation of the treaty by the United States in 1866. The Canada-U.S. Reciprocity Treaty of 1854, also known as the Elgin-Marcy Treaty, was a treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States that applied to British North America, including the Province of Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the Colony of Newfoundland.
The contract covered raw materials; In fact, from 1854 to 1866, it represented a step toward free trade and was rejected by protectionist elements in the United States. Before 1852, British diplomats had tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a reciprocity agreement in Washington. Their first major advocate in Upper Canada was the politician and businessman William Merritt. From 1867 to 1911, the Liberals generally favoured reciprocity. However, after winning the 1896 election, their leader, Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, did not seek liberalization because the United States refused to discuss the issue. Instead, it implemented a Liberal version of national policy by maintaining high tariffs on goods from other countries that restricted Canadian goods. However, it lowered tariffs to the same level as countries that accepted Canadian products.  Political rhetoric has made it a party affair.
Conservatives who publicly advocated nationalism and protectionism, what was called national politics, succeeded in tying the Liberals to free trade, unions, the United States, and continentalism that would lead to annexation by the United States. In 1911, Laurier`s Liberals successfully negotiated a reciprocity treaty with U.S. President William Howard Taft. In the 1980s, the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney negotiated the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. It was signed in 1988 by Mulroney and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Like previous reciprocity agreements, it removed many barriers to trade between the two countries. It was replaced in 1994 by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the United States and Mexico. After 1911, reciprocity played a less important role in Canada-U.S. relations.
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