The Endeavour to Revise Unequal Treaties in East Asia in the Early 1880s

The Endeavour to Revise Unequal Treaties in East Asia in the Early 1880s

Journal

  • Journal title: International Journal of Korean History
  • ISSN: 1598-2041 (print) 2508-5921 (online)
  • Publisher: Korea University, Center for Korean History
  • Country of publisher: korea, republic of
  • Date added to EuroPub: 2018/May/12

Subject and more

  • LCC Subject Category: History
  • Publisher's keywords: unequal treaty system in East Asia, import tariff, tariff autonomy, Regulations for Maritime and Overland Trade between Chinese and Korean Subjects (1882), Regulations under which Japanese trade is to be conducted in Korea (1883), the second Korea-Britain Treaty (1883)
  • Language of fulltext: english
  • Full-text formats available: PDF

AUTHORS

    Seunghoon Han

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

FULL TEXT

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ABSTRACT

This article aims to identify possible changes in the East Asian unequal treaty system in the early 1880s. In 1880, Korea confirmed that China and Japan had suffered from economic damage due to the loss of 5 percent import duty rate and tariff autonomy, and that Japan was preparing the Western powers to revise treaties. Therefore, Korea drafted a treaty that guaranteed the tariff rate of 10% on major imports and Korea’s tariff autonomy based on Japan’s draft of a treaties revision toward Western powers. China, which mediated the settlement of the treaties between Korea and Western powers, secured Korea with an import tariff rate of 10–30 % and tariff autonomy. However, China applied a 5 percent import tariff to Korea, which was in effect in China and Japan, through Regulations for Maritime and Overland Trade between Chinese and Korean Subjects (1882). Japan also applied an import tariff of 8 percent and denied Korea’s tariff autonomy in regulations under which Japanese trade is to be conducted in Korea (1883). In the extension, Korea and Britain set a tariff rate of 7.5 % on major imports in the second Korea-Britain Treaty (1883). The 7.5% tariff was higher than the 5% tariff in China and Japan. However, the 7.5% tariff was the amount of the import duties and transit duties of China combined. Although Japan imposed only a 5% tariff, she strictly prohibited Westerners’ trade in areas other than the open ports. On the other hand, according to the second Korea-Britain Treaty, Korea imposed a tariff of 5 % and 7.5 % on most imports. The average tariff applied in Korea was only about 7%. Furthermore, Westerners in Korea were free to trade in all areas as well as open ports. The possibility of revising the East Asian unequal treaty system, which was proposed since 1880, ended up being disadvantageous to Korea.

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