Reciprocity, a term used in Canada with respect to an agreement with the United States, which involves reciprocal reductions in tariffs. The agitation for reciprocity became political in Canada in 1846 during the period of discontent that followed Britain`s repeal of the corn laws. As a result, the British government was forced to begin negotiations in Washington for a mutual agreement, including the five North American colonies. The dispute over the rights of Great Britain and the United States in the North Atlantic fisheries has complicated reciprocity negotiations, but has increased the fear of a general solution by both governments. In June 1854, Lord Elgin and W. L. Marcy, the U.S. Secretary of State, negotiated the treaty. The reciprocity contract was signed on June 6, 1854 by Governor GENERAL Lord Elgin and 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 ten years. It could then be terminated by both parties with a one-year delay. So what about lessons for today? It is surprising how certain trade issues have always been present between Canada and the United States. Under the Elgin-Marcy Agreement (better known as the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854), the United States and the British colonies in North America (Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland) respectively lifted tariffs on a considerable list of natural products. The most important were cereals, flour and bread, animals, meat, fruit, fish, poultry, seb, charcoal, wood and wood. American fishermen were included in the colonial fishery of the Atlantic coast, while British subjects obtained a similar privilege in the East American inshore fishery north of the thirty-six parallels. British and U.S. shipping had equal access to the St. Lawrence Canals, 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. But the prosperity of that time was largely the result of other factors, including the rapid development of the area around the Great Lakes and the American Midwest, railway construction and the American Civil War.