1838 Treaty of Commerce

AUGUST 16, 1838

Convention of Commerce and Navigation between Her Britannic Majesty and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Signed at Balta-Liman near Constantinople, August 16, 1838.

Convention appended to the Capitulations granted to Great Britain by the Ottoman Porte, amending and altering certain Stipulations therein contained, as regards the Commerce and Navigation of the Two Countries.

During the friendly intercourse which has happily subsisted so long between the Sublime Porte and the Kings of Great Britain. Capitulations granted by the Porte, and Treaties concluded between the Two Powers, have regulated the rates of duties payable on merchandise exported from, and imported into, the Dominations of the Sublime Porte, and have established and declared the rights, privileges, immunities, and obligations of British merchants trading to, or residing in, the Imperial territories. But since the period when the above mentioned Stipulations were last revised, changes of various kinds have happened in the internal administration of the Ottoman Empire, and in the external relations of that Empire with other powers; and Her Majesty the Qeen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and His Highness the Sultan, have therefore agreed now to regulate again, by a special and additional Act, the commercial intercourse of their subjects, in order to increase the trade between their respective Dominions, and to render more easy the Exchange of the produce of the one country for that of the other. They have consequently named for their Plenipotentiaries for this purpose, that is to say; Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Right Honaorable John Brabasoz Lord Ponsonby, Baron of Imakilly, a Peer of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Knight Grand Cross of the most honorable order of the Bath, of the Nishan of Honor, etc.ect., Her Majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at the Sublime Porte , ect.ect.ect., and His Highness the Sultan, the Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Vizier Mustapha Reschid Pasha, Minister for Foreign Affairs, bearing the decoration belonging to his high rank, a Knight Grand Cross of the Legion of honor of France, etc.,etc., the excellent and most distinguished Mustapha Kianne Bey, a Member of the Supreme Council of the State, assitent to the Prime Minister, President of Council of Agriculture and Industry, a Minister of State of the First Class bearing the two decoration belonging to his offices ,etc.etc.; and the excellent and most distinguished Mehmet Noury Efendi, a counselor of State in the department for Foreign Affairs, bearing the Nishan of Honor of the first Class,etc.,etc, who after having communicated their respective Full Powers, found to be in due and proper form, have agreed upon and conducted the following Articles:

ARTICLE 1. All rights privileges, and immunities which have been conferred on the suspects or ships of Great Britain by the existing Capitulations and Treaties, are confirmed now and for ever, expect in as far as they may be specifically altered by the present Convention: and it is moreover expressly stipulated, that all rights, privileges, or immunities which the Sublime Porte now grants, or may here after grant, to the ships and subjects of any other foreign Power, or which it may suffer the ships and subjects of any other foreign Power, or which it may suffer the ships and subject of any other foreign Power to enjoy, shall be equally granted to, and exercised and enjoyed by, the subjects and ships of Great Britain.

2. The subject of Her Britannic Majesty, or their agents, shall be permitted to purchase, at all places in the Ottoman Dominions, ( whether for the purposes of internal trade or exportation) all articles, without any exception whatsoever , the produce, growth, or manufacture of the said Dominions; and the Sublime Porte formally engages to abolish all monopolies of agricultural produce, or of any other articles whatsoever, as well as all Permits from the local Governors, either for the purchase of any article, or for its removal from one place to another when purchased; and any attempt to compels the subjects of Her Britannic Majesty to receive such Permits from the local Governors, shall be considered as an infraction of Treaties, and the Sublime Porte shall immediately punish with severity and Viziers and other Officers who shall have been guilty of such misconduct, and render full justice to British subject for all injuries or losses which they may duly prove themselves to have suffered.

3. If any article of Turkish produce, growth, or manufacture, be purchased by the British Merchant or his agent for the purpose of selling the same for internal consumption in Turkey, the British merchant or his agent shall pay, at the purchase and sale of such articles, and in any manner of trade therein, the same duties that are paid, in similar circumstances, by the most favored class of Turkish subject engaged in the internal trade of Turkey, whether Mussulman's or Rayas.

4. If any article of Turkish produce, growth, or manufacture, be purchased for exportation the same shall be conveyed by the British Merchant or his agent, free of any kind of charge or duty whatsoever, to a convenient place of shipment, on its entry into which it shall be liable to one fixed duty of nine per cent, ad valorem, in lieu of all other interior duties.

Subsequently, on exportation, the duty of three per cent, as established and existing at present, shall be paid. But all articles bought in the shipping ports for exportation, and which have already paid the interior duty at entering into the same, will only pay the three per cent, export duty.

5. The regulations under which Firmans are issued to British Merchant vessels for passing the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus shall be so framed as to occasion to such vessels the least possible delay.

6. It is agreed by the Turkish Government, that the Regulations established in the present Convention shall be general throughout the Turkish Empire, whether in Turkey in Europe or Turkey, in Asia, In Egypt, or other African possessions belonging to the Sublime Porte, and shall be applicable to all the subjects, whatever their description, of the Ottoman Dominions; and the Turkish Government also agree not to object to other foreign Powers settling their trade upon the basis of this present Convention.

7. It having been the custom of Great Britain and the Sublime Porte, whith a view to prevent all difficulties and delay in estimating the value of articles imported into the Turkish Dominions, or exported therefrom, by British subjects, to appoint, at intervals of fourteen years, a Commission of men well acquainted with the traffic of both countries, who have fixed by a Tariff the sum of Money in the coin of the Grand Signor, which should be paid as duty on each article; and the term of fourteen years, during which the last adjustment of the said Tariff was to remain in force, having expired, the High Contracting Parties have agreed to name, conjointly, fresh Commissioners to fix and determine the amount in Money which is to be paid by British subjects, as the duty of three per cent, upon the value of all commodities imported and exported by them; and said Commissioners shall establish an equitable arrangement for estimating the interior duties which, by the present Treaty, are established on Turkish goods to be exported, and shall also determine on the places of shipment, where it may be most convenient that such duties should be levied.

The new Tariff thus established, to be enforce seven years after it has been fixed, at the end of which time it shall be in the power of either of the parties to demand a revision of that Tariff; but if no such demand be made on either side, within the six months after the end of the first seven years, then the Tariff shall remain in force for seven years more, reckoned from the end of the preceding seven years , and so it shall be at the end of each successive period of seven years.

8. The Present Convention shell be ratified, and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Constantinople within space of four months.

In witness where of, the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the same, and have affixed their seals thereunto.

Done at Balta-Liman, near Constantinople, on the 16th day of August, 1838.

(L.S.) MUSTAPHA RESCHID                              (L.S.) PONONBY

August 16, 1838

CERTAIN difficulties having arisen between the Ambassador of Her Britannic Majesty and the Plenipotentiaries of the Sublime Porte, in Fixing the new conditions which should regulate the commerce in British goods imported into the Turkish Dominions, or passing through the same in transit, it is agreed between his Excellency the British Ambassador and the Plenipotentiaries of the Sublime Porte, that the Present Convention should receive their signatures, without the Articles which have reference to the abovementioned subjects forming part of the Body of the said Convention.

But at the same time it is also agreed -the following Articles having been consented to by the Turkish Government- that they shall be Submitted to the approbation of Her Majesty's Government, and should they be approved and accepted by her Majesty's Government they shall the than form an integral part of the Treaty now concluded.

The Articles in question are the following:

ARTICLE 1. All articles being the growth, produce, or manufacture of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and its dependencies, and all merchandise of whatsoever description, embarked in British vessels, and being the property of British subjects, or being brought over land, or by sea, from other countries by the same shall be admitted, as heretofore, into all parts of the Ottoman Dominions, without exception, on the payment of three per cent duty, calculated upon the value of such articles.

And in lieu of all other and interior duties, whether levied on the purchaser or seller, to which these articles are at present subject, it is agreed that the importer, after receiving his goods, shall pay, if he sells them at the place of reception, or if he sends them hence to be sold elsewhere in the interior of the Turkish Empire, one fixed duty of two per cent; after which such goods may be sold and re-sold in the interior, or exported, without any further duty whatsoever being levied or demanded on them.

But all goods that have paid the three per cent import duty at one port, shall be sent to another free of any further duty, and it is only when sold there or transmitted thence into the interior, that the second duty shall be paid.

It is always understood that Her Majesty's Government do not pretend, either by this Article or any other in the present Treaty, to stipulate for more than the plain and fair construction of the terms employed; nor to preclude, in any manner, the Ottoman Government from the exercise of its rights of internal administration, where the exercise of those rights does not evidently infringe upon the privileges accorded by ancient Treaties, or the present Treaty, to British merchandise or British subjects.

All foreign goods brought into Turkey from the other Countries, shall be freely purchased and traded in, in any manner, by the subjects of Her Britannic Majesty or the agents of the same at any place in the Ottoman dominions; and if such foreign goods have paid no other duty than the duty paid on importation, then the British subject or his agent shall be able to purchase such foreign goods on paying the extra duty of two per cent, which he will have to pay on the sale of his own imported goods, or on their transmission for sale into the interior; and after that such foreign goods shall be resold in the interior, or exported without further duty; or should such foreign goods have already paid the amount of the two duties (i.e. the import duty and the one fixed interior duty), then they shall be purchased by the British subject or his agent, and afterwards resold or exported, without being ever submitted to any further duty.

3. No charge whatsoever shall be made upon British goods- (such being growth, produce, or manufacture of the United Kingdom or its dependencies, or the growth, produce, or manufacture of any foreign country, and charge in British vessels and belonging to British subjects)- passing through the Straits of the Dardanelles, of the Bosphorus, and of the Black Sea, whether such goods shall pass through those Straits in the ships that brought them, or are transshipped in those Straits, or, destined to be sold elsewhere, are landed with a view to their being transferred to other vessels (and thus to proceed on their voyage) within a reasonable time.

All merchandise imported into Turkey for the purpose of being transmitted to the other Countries, or which remaining in the hands of the importer, shall be transmitted by him for sale to other Countries, shall only pay the duty of three per cent, paid on importation, and no other duty whatsoever.

Done at Balta-Liman, near Constantinople, the 16th day of August, in the year 1838.

(L.S.) MUSTAPHA RESCHID                              (L.S.) PONONBY

August 27. 1838

Official Note delivered to Lord Ponsonby by His Excellency Nourry Efendi, on the 27th August, 1838, relative to Article II. of the preceding Convention


It is stipulated by Article II of the Treaty of Commerce, concluded between the Sublime Porte and the British Government on the 25th Djemazuelevvel, 1254. (16 August.1838) that English merchants are at liberty to purchase all kind of merchandise in the Ottoman Empire.

But in order that the right of English merchants to sell within the Ottoman Empire, or to export, the merchandise which they may purchase, may not be liable to misconception, the Embassy of Her Britannic Majesty has desired that an explanation should be given on this point, either in the Treaty itself, or in a special note.

The meaning of the passage, of which an elucidation is requested, is clear, from the relation which the subsequent points in Article II bear to each other. But we nevertheless repeat, that English merchants may, in virtue of the Treaty, purchase, within the Ottoman Empire, all kinds of merchandise; may, if they think proper, send the same abroad, after having paid the duty thereon stipulated by the Treaty, or may, if they think fit, re-sell the same within the Ottoman Empire, on conforming to the arrangements established by the Said Treaty with reference to internal commerce.

Such are the arrangements of the Treaty; and give this explanation to the Ambassador, renewing to his Excellence the assurances of our sincere and perfect friendship.

The 7th Djemaziul-Akhyr, 1254 (27th August, 1838).

November 16, 1838

Declaration agreed upon and signed by the respective Plenipotentiaries upon the exchange of the Ratifications of the preceding Convention.

WHEREAS It appears, on examining the English Translation of Article VIII. of the Turkish original of the Treaty signed at Balta-Liman on the 16 th August, 1838, that certain words are inserted in that Article, in the Turkish language, which have no equivalent words in the English original of the same. Article of that Treaty signed by the British Plenipotentiary, these words being to the effect, that the Treaty is not to come into operation until the first day of March 1839; and whereas it is desire to prevent all doubts which might arise in consequence of the difference between the texts of the English and Turkish originals of the Treaty; it is hereby declared to be the understanding of the Plenipotentiaries on both sides, that the Treaty aforesaid shall begin to have effect on the first day of the month of March, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine.

It is further agreed and declared, -the Turkish text the first of the Additional Articles containing the words "overland, or by sea", and the words "or by sea" having been omitted in the English Text, but having been introduced as having the same force and validity as if they had been inserted in the original Article signed by the British and Turkish Plenipotentiaries respectively.

Done at Calendar, on the 16 th days November, 1838.

(Signed in the Turkish Original)

(L.S.) MUSTAPHA KANEE                              (L.S.) PONSONBY



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