THE EFFECT OF FOREIGN FRANCHISES ON AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITY IN BELAD AL-SHAM(1838 - 1914)
The foreign franchises were - in the beginning - grants granted to foreigners by the strong Sultan as a sign of his generosity, and they continued, in fact, during the rule of the Sultan who granted them only, and their aim was to strengthen economic ties. These franchises can be renewed or canceled whenever a new ruler ascends the throne, by entering into long negotiations, and the Sublime Porte has the right to add or delete clauses specific to the state on which these franchises are presented to. The Ottoman state began granting franchises since the era of its founder Othman (128-1324 AD) when it entered into relations with its neighbors at that time, and commercial franchises were the first form of peaceful relations for the Ottoman state because its relations with the Europeans revolved around a narrow range, and that the number of foreigners in the Ottoman Empire was not large, and because the Ottomans were powerful in the beginning, there were no forces that forced them to remove them except for the free will of the grantor, as indicated by one of the historians, including: “These franchises were at the time, in principle granted, by the Sultans without prior discussions, and voluntarily granted rights and privileges to the subjects of foreign countries that had both trade and friendship relations with the Ottoman Empire. The franchises were granted unilaterally and voluntarily by the Sultan, so foreign countries followed the policy of renewal until 1740, when Sultan Mahmud I (1730-1754), permanently renewed the French franchises. All treaties concluded between the Ottoman Empire and foreign countries included a general article that stated: “Every country benefits from the franchises that will be given by treaty to other countries, in addition to the privileges it obtained by its treaties with the Sublime Porte .” The Treaty of Balta Liman , concluded on August 16, 1838, with Britain, abolished the protection system for national products, by limiting the ability of the Ottoman Empire to impose new taxes, and opened the markets of the Ottoman Empire to foreign merchants, and allowed them freedom of import and trade, which led To the imbalance in the trade balance, after determining the percentage of the customs tariff, which amounted to (3%) of the value of the goods, and this condition is not subject to reciprocity. It also included the condition that the customs tariff cannot be modified without the consent of Britain. The importance of the Balta Liman Treaty was that it not only confirmed the previous privileges, but also abolished the Ottoman monopolies. This was represented in the sixth clause of the treaty, which stipulated: “The Turkish government agrees to the measures stipulated in the treaty, which include all the Ottoman Empire, in the European part of Turkey, as well as in the Asian part, Egypt and all the possessions of the Sublime Porte in Africa, and they are applied to all subjects of the regions The Ottoman Empire, whatever their status, and the Turkish government agrees that no foreign country will refuse its trade under this treaty. Foreign traders took advantage of the lack of customs duties imposed on their imported goods, which was at a rate of (3%), as well as exempting them from the fees imposed on their imported goods within the same country. %), which led to the control of foreign traders over foreign trade, which in turn was reflected in the export of agricultural products on the one hand, which led to an increase in the production of some agricultural crops for the purpose of export at the expense of other crops, and this policy resulted in specialization in agriculture, so the cultivation of some crops was limited In certain areas, depending on the presence of branches of foreign companies, which do not depend on the suitability of the land for cultivation, the cultivation of mulberry trees has spread in Syria, for the purpose of raising silkworms to produce silk that is exported to the factories of Lyon and Marseille in France. The production of raw silk in Syria reached between 1880 -1914), two and a half million kilograms in 1880, increased to (6.1) million kilograms in 1914.
Keywords: Foreign Franchises, Belad Al-Sham, Agricultural Activity