intention to defraud the Treasury, the higher authorities of the Treasury remit
or reduce. the penalties that have been occasioned by these errors or transgression
of the law.
At the International Congress of Chambers of Commerce held at Boston
in September, 1912, a form of consular invoice was proposed which was consid-
ered to be exceedingly simple and practical, and I should state that the one re-
quired by our fiscal legislation is even simpler; for in the form referred to, in
addition to the gross weight of the goods, the net weight was required, while in
our form only the gross weight is necessary.
In making the above observations my purpose has been only that commercial
activities between this country and Venezuela should not suffer loss from the
bad impression caused by shipments made with improperly prepared papers, but
that these activities should increase and prosper under well informed and effi-
cient direction to the mutual benefit of both countries.
Venezuela is now in a new era; for the stable peace that it enjoys is a
guarantee that the capital which seeks legitimate employment in the country will
find useful and remunerative investment. The existing Government has under-
taken improvements in all branches of the Administration highways, aqueducts,
sanitation, education and has on hand in the Treasury more than thirty million
Bolivars gold ($6,000,000.00), an amount which no previous Government has had
in its vaults, and enjoys so good a credit as to cause a European banker, who was
asked if he wished to sell his Venezuelan bonds, to say : "No, for they are as good
as gold." The honesty of public Administration is in this manner eloquently pro-
The United States of America has proved that in war it can improvise
armies, fit out squadrons and overcome all difficulties until victory is attained.
Now, that peace shows her white wings on the horizon and this nation has
the financial and industrial preponderance, a large merchant marine, the Panama
Canal route which makes it the center of the world's interchange, there is no
doubt that it is on the point of obtaining commercial supremacy.
Will it triumph also in this peaceful struggle?
The slogan which appears on the banners of the conquests of Peace is
"Deeds, not Words."
Competition is what helps commercial interchange and therefore communi-
ties; that which produces the best workmanship, annihilates distances, and sat-
isfies the necessities of the individual at the least possible cost is that which wins
the palm of victory.
An eminent American business man, in his address at the Sixth National
Foreign Trade Convention held at Chicago at the end of April, said: "It is
my belief that we shall be able to retain a large share of the trade brought to us
so suddenly by the war ; but not unless we deserve it by good performance."
VENEZUELA'S SHARE IN PAN AMERICAN COMMERCE
BY NICOLAS VELOZ, CONSUL GENERAD OF THE .UNITED STATES OF VENEZUELA AT
(Read at the Evening Session of Tuesday, June 3)
The purpose of ^this Conference demonstrates very conclusively that Pan-
America, so happily united by lasting bonds of friendship and commerce, is heartily
supported by the untiring and efficient propaganda of this unique Institution whose
hospitality we are now enjoying.
These periodical meetings show in a very convincing manner that we have
been aroused to a realization of the fact that there lies a great strength in our
commercial and political union, and that no matter how important a factor we may
be in the World's Commerce, it is our duty to take immediate and practical meas-
ures to expand and improve our trade relations, not only among ourselves but also
with the other countries engaged in our commerce.
The Great War gave an unusual opportunity to the United States to enlarge
considerably its Latin-American trade. The increase that was attained was really
phenomenal, and the figures would be more surpassing still, had it not been for the
untimely shortage of tonnage which was created by complexities arising from the
European Struggle, which affected in a very profound manner the economic
foundation of warring and Neutral nations.
As it was of paramount importance to preserve tonnage as much as possi-
ble, especially after the United States entered ^the war, the curtailment of the
Pan-American Trade was inevitable. The restrictions which were systematically
imposed brought about a considerable decrease in our commercial activity to a
position where from the point of view of many merchants in Latin-America
a misleading opinion was formed as to whether or not the United States would
avail themselves of that unique opportunity and reap the benefits of the wide-
open-door traffic, while European countries, engaged in warfare, were reducing
their Pan-American trade to almost a negligible figure and, above all, whether or
not the American merchants and manufacturers would be in a position to hold
the gains so far obtained, once peace was signed and Europeans would endeavor
to re-establish their pre-existing competition.
That seems to be the momentous issue before this Conference, and I feel
confident that in the performance of its mission, a profusion of practical sugges-
tions will be made towards the solution of this important problem. Whatever
conclusion is reached, and whatever resolutions are adopted by the Conference,
as embodying our combined thought, we may be sure, Gentlemen, that the Pan
American Union shall rise as usual to the occasion, and shall see to it that the
results of our efforts be equal to or even surpass our expectations as to unity and
co-operation in the modus operand*.
216 SECOND PAN AMERICAN COMMERCIAL CONFERENCE
The time is ripe to study and remedy the conditions, and to remove objec-
tionable features that may appear on the surface, because we are now approaching,
slowly but perceptibly, a status of normality. Peaceful trading will soon be started,
as black-listing and other safeguarding measures have been abolished, thus relieving
a great burden which weighed very heavily on trade at large.
The United States Government, as we understand, is about to complete its
shipbuilding program, and it has even been suggested lately that the establishment
of coal and oil depots on all trades routes, and the creation of free ports, would
be of immense value to trade in general.
Let us analyze at the outset what are the conditions obtaining in the present
trade, and find out, if another policy were adopted, what would be the results to
One of the drawbacks in the Latin American Trade has been that many
American merchants and manufacturers*, have been rather independent in their
treatment of this question, undoubtedly because of the enormous development of
their domestic business which, under normal conditions, has absorbed most of
their attention. Pre-war conditions proved in no mean manner that their interest
in the Latin-American commerce was, to a certain extent, a "side-show" to which
they devoted their spare time.
Some of them thought that all that was necessary to get our trade was to sit
at their desks and transact business with a single letter, a five-cent postage stamp
and a catalogue, which was not understood at the country of destination. This
is not a matter that can be taught by mail and fortunately there are many who by
this time have realized the truth of this assertion. They know now what the
European Merchant has done to get the business, and they have witnessed his
You cannot succeed unless you have the required ability for the role you
expect to play in the commercial game. It is absolutely essential that a thorough
study be made of actual conditions. The commercial legislation of Latin America
must be carefully scrutinized, for no merchant can form a true conception of the
actual value of his products in the country of destination, and thus be enabled to
make a fair comparison with similar European products, unless he makes it a
point to analyze the variety of circumstances which will affect his goods at the
country where he expects to make sales. It is also necessary to make an analytical
study of the psychology of the people he is dealing with. In this case your actions
should be guided by a spirit of tolerance and flexibility, as success cannot be
expected without the knowledge of these important factors which are fundamental
in common-every-day practice. You are dealing with people exceedingly traditional
in their customs. It must be said, however, that they are extremely susceptible
to any favorable change and can, with patience and perseverance, be inclined to adapt
themselves to a new situation, because they have a remarkable capacity for assimila-
tion of anything progressive. Many Americans have gone to Latin America in the
manner of Commercial Iconoclasts, as it were, imposing conditions, and expecting
radical changes, suitable to themselves. They have failed for they were venturing
into the impossible.
When the American business man can realize this situation, visualizing in a
broad minded way the conditions as they are, and not as they should be, according
to his particular point of view, great progress shall have been attained and you
will be nearer the desired goal.
It should be understood, too, that you cannot consider domestic products, in
all lines, as final and adaptable to Latin American needs. There should be a fixed
policy among manufacturers tending to give, so to speak, more elasticity to the
ways and means of production, so that it is on equal footing with the European
production. The latter has found a good market in South America on account
of its adaptability, because the European is manufacturing articles especially for
the Latin American trade, even when this involves a complete change of sizes and
quality from the standard product.
This apparent inconvenience to some American merchants has caused their
refusal to comply with existing demands in producing something different than the
standardized domestic article, and in packing according to requirements, thus
losing great opportunities in the Latin American trade, because "they were not
prepared." This has been a veiled manner of expressing their indifference towards
such a trade, and the result has been that their inertia has had a natural reflex
effect of destroying or minimizing other opportunities eagerly sought by some
"who are prepared." It is a stumbling block which must be removed at all costs.
An excellent preparation may be acquired through Government publications.
The Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce is a splendid source of informa-
tion open to all wishing to get acquainted with Latin American Countries and
their trade. The Pan American Union is always ready to furnish very valuable
data. Its proven efficiency defies all inquiries, and there are many who are en-
joying the benefits of the experience acquired through this important institution,
which, by its own gravity and birthright, has become All-Americas' Commercial
Mecca, and the Temple of Pan-American worship. Consular Officers of the United
States abroad and Latin-American Consuls accredited to this country are also in
a position to furnish important information concerning their countries.
To flood territories with catalogues in English, is absolutely a waste of time
and money. They should be printed in the language of the country of destination,
as far as practicable, and distributed to the proper parties. There is a widespread
divergence of opinion as to the use of catalogues; but it may be asserted that as
convenient and necessary as they may be in some lines, they constitute, however, a
very ineffective way of getting large business, if for no other reason, because of
the well-known saying that "a sample is worth 100 catalogues."
This brings the agent or salesman into the scene with his potential value to
be determined by his ability and preparation. As in any other calling, the matter
resolves itself into: "personal equation" This is a very important factor, not dis-
counting in any way the question of the language of the country, knowledge of
its geography, customs, etc., which are absolutely essential.
Another difficulty has been the question of credit, which has handicapped
the development of Pan-American trade. The American merchant has been prone
to close his deals on the cash basis or with a leeway of 30-60 or 90 days. He has
considered it risky to extend longer terms to Latin American merchants. This
credit is really expected by them, because they are accustomed to the treatment of
the matter by the European, who grants 120-180 days or more if necessary. In their
sensitiveness, they have in many cases resented the refusal of credit as a reflection
on their integrity. European Bankers were the pioneers in establishing their
branches in Latin America, and were able to help their nationals, not only in
getting more business for them, but also acting as a source of information con-
cerning the financial stability of the merchants engaged in their trade.
Since the war started, however, the establishment of American Banks in
Venezuela has done a great deal to accomplish what was considered as a great
necessity. These new banking facilities have had the tendency to broaden the
mind and to incline the American merchant towards longer credits. This consti-
tutes undoubtedly a great advance in the position they now occupy, as compared
with pre-war conditions; and it is to be hoped that many more merchants and
manufacturers who have failed to do so, will appreciate in the near future the
full value of credit as an essential requirement in winning the trade. Means are
now at hand to investigate in the United States, and through such Banks, all
about the financial standing and integrity of Latin American Merchants, so that
the granting of necessary credits does not involve today much risk or uncertainty.
It is surprising how few manufacturers and merchants have made an effort
to inquire into the possibilities that are latent in Latin America.
So far as Venezuela is concerned, it may surprise some to know, for in-
stance, that Denver, Col., is further away from New York than from Venezuela,
the distance from New York and New Orleans through regular steamship lanes
being about the same (1840 miles) It will be also a revelation to others that
Venezuela is twice as large as Texas, and still would leave room for Kentucky
and other smaller Eastern States.
On account of our unusual and splendid geographical position, we are nearer
the United States than any South American country. Our eight ports open for
export and import trade, and other ports used for coastwise service only, afford
an excellent opportunity for a full development of the trade. We are blessed by
nature with a marvelous and natural system of irrigation which makes of Venezuela
one of the best watered lands in the world, with a fertility of soil truly astonishing.
Therein you will find a variety of climates, from the tropical ^ to the temperate,
thus creating diverse conditions of life to be contended with. Venezuela is
eminently an agricultural country, although we also are very wealthy in forest
products, live-stock and mineral resources. Modern methods in agriculture are
required, and this should be a splendid field for the American manufacturer.
During the European War, Venezuela was, perhaps, one of the South Ameri-
can Countries better situated to face the economic crisis at a time when the food
problem was the main question in the minds of the peoples of the world. The
SECOND PAN AMERICAN COMMERCIAL CONFERENCE
Venezuelan Government took immediate measures, inciting the people to a more
intensive development of agriculture; and the generous response of my countrymen
to this appeal was, as may be observed in statistics, that we not only started to
become more productive for domestic consumption, but that, for the first time in
our history, we were able to export large quantities of corn, peas, beans, onions,
castor-oil seeds, etc.
The Venezuelan Foreign Trade has taken great strides in the last few years.
By way of reference, the following table will show its gradual increase during
the years 1908-1917, both inclusive :
Years. Imports. Exports. Total Trade.
1908 $9,814,027 $14,613,244 $24,427,271
1909 9,766,182 16,028,635 25,794,817
1910 12,387,553 17,948,570 30,336,123
1911 18,364,889 22,684,384 41,079.273
1912 20,568,940 25,260,908 45,829,848
1913 18,030,104 29,483,789 47,513,893
1914 13,987,465 21,520,534 35,507,999
1915 13,470,236 23,404,427 36,874,663
1916 21,382,817 23,530,570 44,913,387
1917 22,892,977 24,044,872 46,897,849
These figures will be more graphically described, and shown at a glance, in
the following chart, where the curves are plotted in accordance with the figures
given above. It may be added, incidentally, that the increase of our trade with
the United States was due, in a great measure, to the uninterrupted steamship
service which was maintained between Venezuelan ports and New York, even when
other Latin American countries were suffering from partial stoppage and uncer-
tainty in sailings.
I.CFT MKRGIN AP
LICS TOT! TAL. TRA >K.j
As may be noticed, the beginning of the European War caused a great slump
in our trade, reducing it, at the end of the calendar year, from $47,513,893, to
$35,507,999, that is, in $12,005,894, or, approximately 27 per cent; the lowest point
in the chart being the year 1908, when it sank to $24,427,271. We gradually re-
covered, however, and the satistics show that our trade has been increasing steadily
since August, 1914, in spite of the war to a point where we now have practically
reached the figures attained during the year 1913. The imports of Venezuela from
the United States for the year 1917 amounted to 70 per cent of the total volume.
Great Britain's share during the same period was of 16.4 per cent, and other coun-
tries 13.6 per cent. Our imports and exports for the year 1915 were divided among
the following ports :
Metric Imports Metric Exports
Ports. Tons. Value. Tons. Value.
La Guaira , 40,341 $6,785,162 21,574 $6,224,830
Maracaibo 20,548 3,058,598 47,403 7,114,775
Puerto Cabello , 28,620 2,367,951 35,352 5,129,656
Ciudad Bolivar 7,714 993,416 6,355 3,221,555
Carupano 2,780 466,239 4,497 1,049,756
Puerto Sucre 1,653 119,132 1,029 165,596
La Vela 327 72,606 14,621 156,238
Cristobal Colon 3,094 84,802 29,840 904,299
Guanta 218 16,535 1,091 72,605
Pampatar 310 5,091 7,173 44,245
It will readily be observed that the greater portion of our imports were in-
troduced through the ports of La Guaira, Puerto Cabello and Maracaibo in their
order of importance, while with our exports Maracaibo takes the lead in that year
and is followed by Puerto Cabello and La Guaira, reversing conditions. This is due
to coffee and sugar exports, as Maracaibo is the main Western outlet for a coffee
and sugar region, through which those commodities are shipped to the United
States and abroad. Puerto Cabello and La, Guaira are in the same position con-
cerning the bulk of of our trade.
There is at Puerto Cabello a packing house with a capacity of 500 heads
per day, and frozen beef is exported from there to Europe in special refrigerating
ships. The plant was enlarged considerably during the war. The great plains of
Venezuela, especially in the South, offer splendid opportunities for the raising of
cattle due to low cost of land and their nearness to markets.
Our most important staples are coffee and cacao. The crops for 1917 and
1916 were not as large as usual due to the shortage of tonnage and also to low
prices prevailing in the markets and to inability to ship to Europe. These prices
have risen considerably since the armistice was signed in November last, and con-
sequently have been a timely boon for Venezuela planters.
The coffee shipped from Venezuela in 1916 and 1917 was distributed among
the following countries :
COFFEE (1 Bolivar = $0.193 gold). Value given in Bolivares.
United States 25,971
France , 11,381
The Federal Government was compelled to place cacao on a restricted basis,
of importation, and Venezuela was allotted a certain share of this product for in-
troduction into the United States. The following table gives the figures reached
by our exports of cacao during the aforesaid years of 1916 and 1917:
Countries. Met. Tons.
United States 5,305
CACAO (Value given in Bolivares).
As regards our sugar industry which has been developed extensively, with
modern methods in the last few years, we were not so fortunately situated. The
restrictions placed on this commodity made it imperative that the product be sold
at a certain fixed price determined by the Sugar Board. This measure and also
the shortage of tonnage, which compelled the allotment and rationing of imports
UNITED STATES EXPORTS
TO ILATIN* AMERICA
NICARAGUA. * 2,886.026.
UNITED STATES IMPORTS
FROM ItATlN* AMBSIGA
BOLIVIA.- 4 398.
PARAO^M^C * 67. 220.
URUQUAY 4 1,640. 609.
3,4-1 3, 51-*.
3, 456. 069.
TOTAL TRADE 1913*743,618,699.
PA* AM/?fCAfif WQtf
UNITED STATES EXPORTS
TO LATIN- AMERICA
OOSTA.K.1GA * 2, 100^73.-^
GUATAMALA. *4; Z4I.977.
HONDURAS 45.033. 933.-*.
7, 161, 345.
UNITED STATES IMPORTS
FROM LATIN" AMEKJGA
PARAQUAT * J 40, 275.
BOLIVIA *A51,932. <\
KICARAQUA * A. 792.351
HAITI 46,756,509. .
TOTAk. TRADE. 1918 41,791,175,136.
222 SECOND PAN AMERICAN COMMERCIAL CONFERENCE
into the United States, created a difficulty with Venezuelan sugar planters, because
the market price fixed beforehand by the Board, all but wiped out a reasonable
margin of profit, and it did not help any to offset the higher freight rates which
weighed very heavily on our sugar by reason of a longer ton-mileage, as compared
with the short freight rates that applied to Cuba due to her proximity to the
In 1916 we exported 9,273 metric tons valued at $1,500,000 and in 1917
15,370 metric tons valued at $2,800.000.
Hides were also restricted and the figures show a decrease in the last two
Asphalt and Copper ore were also a considerable item in our exports during
1916 and 1917. They were exported as follows:
Metric Tons. Value.
1916 Asphalt 44,621 $288,479
1916 Copper Ore 11,779 340,943
1917 Asphalt -, 48,844 327,146
1917 Copper Ore 34,353 561,406
Venezuela also exports Skins, Balata, Animals, Castor-oil Seeds, Chicle and
other gums, Cocoa-nut oil, Copaiba, Diyidivi, Aigrettes, Fertilizers, Fish Sounds,
Gold, Leather (Sole), Magnesite, Maize, Mangrove Bark, Meat, Pearls, Perl
Shells, Rubber, Cebadilla, Sandals, Sernamby, Tobacco, Tonka Beans and Wood.
Our imports comprise practically every commodity, except a number of arti-
cles, the importation of which is prohibited or prohibitive for protective reasons.
The most important items making the bulk of our imports are : Agricultural imple-
ments and machinery, Automobiles, Bagging, Butter, Cement, Flour, Coal, Cotton