The Human Emperor - Chapter 97: Tariffs!
“Grandfather and elders, I have another matter I would like to talk about.”
Walking toward Elder Ye, Wang Chong didn’t sit down immediately.
The elders turned to look at him.
“Young Master Chong, feel free to speak your mind.”
By his side, ‘Duke of Hu’ said. He had a favorable impression of this young grandson of Duke Jiu.
“Even though the royal court refused to ban the sales of steel equipment and salt, there is another method to reduce the amount of steel equipment that the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate obtains. Furthermore, the entire royal court will definitely pass the motion swiftly.”
Wang Chong calmed himself before speaking.
Cousin Wang Li’s complexion was already awful after having his spotlight stolen from him. Upon hearing Wang Chong bring up the issue of the steel equipment which he failed to tackle at previously, his face became so dark that it seemed as though ink would drip from it.
Wasn’t he intentionally humiliating him in public?
“Young Master Chong, what is the method you speak of?”
Everyone immediately asked curiously. The Sage Emperor’s intentions on the matter couldn’t be any clearer, it was impossible for a ban of any kind to be established. He wouldn’t sour trading relations over the sales of steel equipment.
The reason why he chose to keep silent about the matter was also for the same reason.
Yet, Wang Chong said that there was a method to reduce the sales of steel equipment that the royal court would pass. The attention of the elders was immediately piqued.
“Chong-er. don’t spout rubbish! Everyone here is a veteran, and if you don’t know about the matters of the royal court, don’t utter nonsense!”
Wang Chong’s big uncle warned him with a steeled face.
Wang Gen held complicated emotions toward Wang Chong. On one hand, the more outstanding Wang Chong performed, the more unlikely Li-er would succeed his father’s standing and influence.
But on the other, Wang Chong didn’t just represent himself before his father’s old subordinates. He represented the entire Wang Clan. There was already no hope for Wang Li, Wang Fu was insufficiently capable, and Wang Bei was already ruined. If Wang Chong were to fail as well, the old subordinates, students, and old acquaintances of his father would surely start taking the Wang Clan lightly.
The animals of the forest would be willing to submit to the ferocious tiger, but it wouldn’t submit to a mere dog!
Wang Chong’s previous performance was so outstanding that he wasn’t able to pick any flaws with his words. At this moment, all he feared was Wang Chong misspeaking. Given Wang Chong’s lack of understanding of the royal court, it was highly likely for his words to fall through. If so, all of his accomplishments before would be canceled out, and he would return back to square one.
“Eldest gongzi, it’s a good thing that Young Master Chong has his own initiative. Allow him to speak!”
‘Elder Ma’ said.
Those present here were all veterans, how could they not tell what Wang Gen was thinking of? Wang Chong was only fifteen, and he wasn’t old enough to access the matters of the royal court yet. Furthermore, Wang Yan was a general by the border, so it was impossible for him to teach him.
This was the reason why the elders here wanted to see how much weight this fifteen-year-old child could pull.
“Chong-er, don’t worry, feel free to speak. Even if it doesn’t work out, no one will blame you!”
The old master waved his hand and said.
He always treated all of his offsprings equally and promoted them based on their abilities. It was rare that all of his old subordinates and brothers were here, and since Wang Chong has already stood up, he wouldn’t be allowed to simply sit back down like that.
This was a test on his future accomplishments, as well as a trial to determine how much help he would be able to gather from this bunch of old subordinates.
The crux to all of these was Wang Chong’s capability!
Wang Chong bowed before continuing:
“Actually, reducing the outflow of steel equipment is simple. We just have to raise its price.”
“It’s useless. Steel equipment is involved in the production line and various aspects of life. From the minor things such as pot, shovel, and hoe to the weapons and armors… Raising the price of steel equipment would pose a huge burden to the civilians, as well as increase the military expenditure of the royal court. Furthermore, the steel production clans, workshops, mines, and such would all oppose violently to the matter.”
“Thus, such a plan is unfeasible!”
At the very end of the conference hall, a thin and short white-haired elder spoke up. Wang Chong recognized him, he was ‘Elder Zhao’. Among the old subordinates of grandfather, he had the worst martial arts.
The reason was simple, he was in charge of rations.
In the past, when grandfather conducted campaigns, he would specifically pinpoint him to serve as the ration officer to take care of the logistics and liaise with the royal court and the local districts for the various matters.
Everyone knew that the logistics of a military campaign was exceedingly complicated, but as long as ‘Elder Zhao’ was present, such matters would smoothen out neatly.
Just by hearing Wang Chong’s method, he was able to tell that it was unfeasible from the very root. It wasn’t profitable for them to do this just to curb the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate. This would shake the inner stability of the Tang Dynasty, so this plan was out of questions.
Everyone thought that Wang Chong could come up with some incredible plan, but upon hearing his words, disappointment appeared on their faces. In the end, he was only a fifteen-year-old child. How much could he possibly know about the matters of the royal court?
If raising the price could control the outflow of steel equipment, this problem would have long been resolved. There would be no need for them to discuss this matter here.
“Hehe, if we were to just raise the price of the steel equipment, the plan would be unfeasible…”
Wang Chong smiled confidently. He glanced at the entire room, and he didn’t seem to be disheartened at all:
“But what if we use tariffs?”
Elder Zhao was surprised by Wang Chong’s words, and a frown slowly etched onto his forehead. On the other hand, the other elders looked around before turning to Wang Chong with interest.
They have never heard of tariffs before.
“May I ask Young Master Chong what tariffs are? I have been involved in finances, taxes, and logistics my entire life, and I don’t think that there are any taxes in the Great Tang that I’ve never heard of. Pardon my ignorance, but what are tariffs?
Elder Zhao asked earnestly in desire to learn. This was one of his strengths; when he came by something he didn’t know of, he would surely ask until he gets to the bottom of it. Even when he has reached such an advanced age, this trait of his still remained.
This was also why the old master trusted him heavily and held him in high regards!
Seeing the elders turning to look at him, Wang Chong smiled. He had also contemplated over the matters regarding the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate for a very long time, and he realized that just by using tariffs, it could be solved easily!
Even though tariffs were commonplace in another world, no one knew about them in here!
The Great Tang had income tax, servant tax, head tax, city entrance tax, commercial tax… But it didn’t have ‘tariffs’.
Most of the merchants from Abbasid Caliphate, Charax Spasinu, Turkic Khaganate, Goguryeo, and such enjoyed the same price as the Central Plains when they came over to purchase goods.
Thus, even if the royal court were to prohibit the sales of specific items to the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate, those nomadic tribes could still obtain a steady supply of steel equipment from the Abbasid Caliphate and Charax Spasinu.
And for a trading hub, this was actually an extremely unnatural performance. Despite conducting business for innumerable years, the idea of ‘tariffs’ had never occurred to anyone in Great Tang.
Since no one has ever thought of it, Wang Chong felt compelled to remind them of the matter so that they would know of its existence.
“Grandfather and elders, salt and steel are special industries, especially for the steel equipment industry. In grandson’s opinion, when it is sold within our territories, there is no need for one to pay taxes for it. This way, everyone would be able to enjoy the discounted price, and there wouldn’t be any social unrest.”
“However, if one intends to take these steel equipment out of Great Tang into Charax Spasinu, Abbasid Caliphate, or the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate, then they would have to pay taxes at the checkpoint which we will establish by the borders. This is called tariff!”
“As these steel equipment are no longer within the boundaries of Great Tang, naturally, the price cannot be the same as those within. Thus, we can collect taxes at twofold, threefold, fourfold… or even sixfold of the original price!”
“This way, not only would the price of salt and steel be unaffected, we can also earn a huge sum of money for the Great Tang’s treasury.”
“As the reason behind the sales and purchases of steel equipment is highly political, it tends to be in huge quantities. Thus, if we were to impose tariffs on it, there would only be two situations. Firstly, the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate, due to the great need to raise their overall strength, would continue purchasing the steel equipment regardless of the price. This way, we would be unable to stop them. But, at the very least, we would earn a huge sum of money for the empire.”
“Secondly, the price is too high, and the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate give up on purchasing the steel equipment. That would be even better! We would lose a huge sum of money, but in exchange, the inflow of steel equipment into the two countries, and thus their overall military strength, would be curbed. ——Isn’t this our primary motive?”
“Furthermore, the tariff would only be limited to salt and steel equipment. Thus, no other industry would be affected, and the Sage Emperor need not worry about causing any hindrance in the trade with the other countries.”
“Of course, the tariffs doesn’t have to be limited to just salt and steel equipment. It could also be imposed on anything else. As long as the taxes are at an optimal level, its implementation is feasible. However, this isn’t something that I can solve by casually speaking about here, and it has to go through discussions in the royal court.”
At the end, Wang Chong glanced at his big uncle.
Everyone has been listening attentively to Wang Chong’s words in the conference hall. Initially, they didn’t think much of Wang Chong’s plan, but the more they heard, the brighter their eyes glowed. In the end, even ‘Elder Zhao’, who opposed to Wang Chong’s thoughts at the start, gazed at Wang Chong in amazement.
If he wasn’t seeing it personally, he wouldn’t dare to believe that these words could be spouted from the mouth of a fifteen-year-old child.
Tariffs, tariffs… All of them had only been thinking about the threat of the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate in the north, and that the more steel equipment that flowed into their borders, the stronger they would become. Thus, the most direct method to resolving the issue was to ban the sales of steel equipment totally and shut down all trade with the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate.
Some of them also shared the thoughts of Duke Jiu’s grandson ‘Young Master Li’ of fighting it out with the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate to instill fear into them. No one has ever considered the possibility of using ‘tariffs’ to silently terminate the inflow of steel equipment into the Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate.
Furthermore, as an elder in the finance and logistics department of the Great Tang, he was certain that His Majesty would agree to it.
It wouldn’t require too long a discourse before the group in the royal court approve of this plan. Those finance ministers would be using all of their might to push this matter through.
“Hahaha, Xue Zique and those bunch of finance ministers can find a few ropes to hang themselves out of embarrassment. To think that they’ve been thinking of all kinds of reasons to collect taxes from the civilians and rob them of their hard-earned money, and neglect such a wonderful thing such as tariffs! Aren’t those merchants of Charax Spasinu and Abbasid Caliphate rich? There are so many ideal targets to leech off, yet they were unable to think of it!”
Slapping his thighs, Elder Zhao laughed heartily.
How did they know that tariff is a tax?
In Chinese, the taxes are named in a way like ‘gate tax‘, ‘civilian tax‘, ‘income tax‘, and tariff is no different. (Direct translation: border gate tax)