United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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ern vegetables seems to be wanting, and vegetables being always in market,
one soon tires of them. But, when our own ground is covered with snow
and ice, they might be shipped north to some advantage.

In mineral wealth, Cuba is capable of taking high rank. Gold and silver
have not been found in paying quantities. Copper was mined at Cobre by
the natives before Columbus discovered the island, and there is strong proof
that native copper was carried across to Florida and used by the Florida In-
dians hundreds of years ago. The mound-builders of that State buried with
their dead copper ornaments and utensils hammered from native copper,
which always has an admixture of more or less foreign matter. As no cop-
per ore is found in Florida, nor in the United States for a long distance from
there, and as that found in the United States or in Mexico does not corre-
spond chemically with that buried with the mound-builders, it occurred to
Prof. R. H. Sanders, of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia,
that it was possible that these mound-builders had water communication with
Cuba, and got their copper from here. He therefore communicated with
the writer and procured a sample of native Cuban copper, which proved,
upon analysis, to be the identical kind used in the copper ornaments men-
tioned. In the early part of the present century, some English capitalists
purchased these mines, which are 9 miles from Santiago. The books of this
consulate show that from 1828 to 1840 an average of from ^2,000,000 to
13,000,000 worth of copper ore was shipped annually to the United States
from these mines. How much was shipped elsewhere, I have not the means
of knowing.

These mines continued in successful operation until 1867, when a com-
bination of circumstances, and not the poverty of the mines, closed them
up, and the various shafts, from 900 to 1,200 feet deep, filled with water, all
save 300 feet being below the level of the sea. In later years, considerable
copper was taken from these mines by pumping the water from the shafts to
tanks, into which iron scraps were thrown. The copper held in solution by
the water, deposited on the scrap iron, which in time was broken off and the

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iron used again. It is generally believed that large quantities of copper still
remain unmined in this locality.

The iron mines of Cuba, all of which are located near Santiago, over-
shadow in importance all other industries on the eastern end of the island,
constituting the only industry that has madq any pretense of standing up
against the shock of the present insurrection. The Juragua and Daiquiri
iron companies (American), with a combined capital of over ^5,000,000, now
operate mines in this vicinity and employ from 800 to 1,400 men, shipping
to the United States from 30,000 to 50,000 tons of iron ore per month, the
largest portion of which is used at Bethlehem, Steelton, Sparrow's Point,
and Pittsburg. The ore of these mines is among 'the richest in the world,
yielding from 62 to 67 per cent of pure iron, and is very free from sulphur
and phosphorus. There are numerous undeveloped mines of equal richness
and value in this region.

In the Sierra Maestra range, on the southern coast of Cuba, from Santiago
west to Manzanillo, within a distance of about 100 miles, are found numerous
deposits of manganese, an ore indispensable in the manufacture of steel.
American capital opened a mine about 20 miles distant at a place called
Ponupo, and built a railroad to it. After shipping one cargo, the mines were
stopped by the insurgents. As nearly all the manganese used in the United
States comes from the Black Sea regions of Europe and a smaller quantity
from the northern part of South America, it is but reasonable to suppose that
the products of these near-by mines will be in great demand when the con-
ditions are such that they can be operated in safety.

Railroads and other highways, improved machinery, and more modem
methods of doing business are among the wants of Cuba ; and with the on-
ward march of civilization these will be doubtless hers in the near future.
Cuba, like other tropical and semitropical countries, is not given to manu-
facturing ; her people would rather sell the products of the soil and mines
and buy manufactured goods. The possibilities of the island are great, while
its probabilities remain an unsolved problem.


Santiago de Cuba, January <?, i8g'/. Consul,


I inclose in duplicate a clipping taken from the Japan Daily Mail of Oc-
tober 19, 1896, which is important as giving a statement of the output of
the kerosene oil of Japan for the ten years 1 884-1 894, and as calling special
attention to the great increase in the output of this oil since the introduction
of American machinery.

It also calls attention to the fact that new companies are being started
which will greatly increase this output in future.

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I have reduced the quantities stated in the articles from ' * koku ' ' to gal-
lons. The Japanese names occurring above the columns of figures in the
table given are the names of provinces on the northwestern coast of Japan,
which is the oil region of the Empire.


Kanagawa, October 22^ i8q6. Consul- General,

[From the Japan Daily Mail of October 19, 1896.]

The existence of " inflammable water" in Echigo has been known for more than ten centu-
ries, though the extraction of kerosene and its purification for purposes of illumination date
only from the Meiji era. It was in 1888 that machines were introduced and the extraction
of the oil regularly started. But for a long time no satisfactory result was obtained. The
introduction of American kerosene machinery, a year or two ago, was the signal for a sudden
development of the industry, as may be seen from the following table:




















































Japan imports kerosene from America and Russia to an extent of 5,000,000 to 6,000,000
yen per annum. Partly from a desire to meet this demand with home products, and also from
the unusually satisfactory returns that some capitalists succeeded in making from this industry,
kerosene extraction has become very brisk in Echigo. The latest returns of the Echigo pe-
troleum companies record exceptional profits, the dividends declared by some being as much
as 113 per cent, and none were less than 20 per cent. The attention of wealthy men being
directed to the industry, several new companies were started lately with capitals ranging from
300,060 to 500,000 yen. The establishment of these companies has been a great desideratum,
for owing to the nature of the industry the companies at work previously suffered severe strain,
owing to their paltry capital Kerosene is chiefly obtained in the five districts of Koshi, Naka,
Higashi Kubiki, Mishima, and Kariba. The first district yields the largest amount of oil at
present, owing to the employment of American machinery. At a depth less than 200 yards
below sea level more than 30 koku (i koku^39.7 gallons) can be daily extracted from some
wells. The monthly output reaches about 20,000 koku at present. It is confidently expected
that the introduction of similar improvements in other districts will be followed by a large
increase in the total output of oil in Echigo.


I have the honor, through the Department of State, to call the attention
of American railway promoters, financial agents, engineering experts, and
manufacturers of railway and kindred products to the opportunity existing
in Siam for investigation and possible development.

Unless action is taken upon my suggestions at an early date, the best op-
portunities will be seized by others.

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At present, the British, German, and Danish interests are most active in
securing concessions and organizing new schemes. European countries have
had, so far, such a monopoly of this field that there has practically been no
American competition and no advertising in America for proposals, tenders
of bids, tic. In the two and a half years of my stay in Bangkok, not one
American financial agent, railway or engineering promoter has visited Siam,
although I have striven to make them understand in such ways as possible
that they should at least visit the field. The energy they have displayed in
Korea, Japan, and China should be extended to Siam. If American capi-
talists can obtain important concessions in Korea and China, they certainly
should be able to do so in Siam. Bangkok is as easily reached from Hong-
kong or Singapore as Seoul from Yokohama, and more easily than Peking
from Shanghai ; the Government of Siam is as favorable to foreign interests
as those of Korea and China, and there is no great difficulty in presenting
any scheme, obtaining a hearing from the high officials, or securing a con-
cession, provided it is reasonable and has not already been promised.

I would not paint too rosy a picture. This, of course, is an oriental
kingdom, and one familiar with the Orient kndws what that means. A plan
that could be drawn up and agreed upon with all details settled in two weeks
in America would perhaps require two months in Siam.

Looking first at what has been done in Siam, we note that the Korat rail-
way line, running 165 miles northeast from Bangkok, is now about half com-
pleted. The only competitors for this contract, involving I3, 000,000 to
15,000,000 (gold), were Englishmen and Germans. The former obtained
it, and hence all the supplies came from England. It has now passed into
the hands of Germans, and additional supplies are ordered from Germany.
American contractors would have stood an equal chance had they been on
the ground.

Looking, on the other hand, to what may be done, there are several im-
portant plans now projected which should interest American contractors,
agents, and manufacturers. Chief of these is a line west and south from
Bangkok to Ratburi and Petcharburee, a distance of about 100 miles, which
may be continued, later on, down the Malay Peninsula. It is now reported
that the Siamese Government will build this line from its own funds, be-
ginning in January or February, 1897, but there is no reason why a por-
tion of the materials, supplies, and equipment should not come from the
United States. This is deemed one of the most important railway under-
takings in southeastern Asia, and it may be a link in the proposed Siara-
China line, reaching from the Bay of Bengal to the China Sea.

Other lines discussed are: (i) One of 600 miles north to Cheangmai
continuing from the present Ayuthia line; (2) one to Anghin, 40 miles south-
east from Bangkok, and possibly on to Chantaboon, 150 miles; (3) one to
Petriew east, about 40 miles; (4) and other lesser and shorter routes, in-
cluding electric lines.

Under the head of engineering propositions, it is certain that Bangkok
must in the near future arrange for a permanent and healthful water supply

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which would require an expenditure of 1 1,000,000 or more. A system of
sewerage is also a plain necessity and, on account of low ground, presents
both an interesting and difficult problem. This would cost as much as
waterworks. In addition to these, are lesser public works that must be
undertaken if Siam would progress and Bangkok be converted into a health-
ful and prosperous capital.

Perhaps more important than even these railway schemes is the possible
deepening of the bar at the mouth of the River Menam, 30 miles below Bang-
kok. At present, the Siamese Government is little interested in this im-
provement, although nearly one thousand steamers entered and cleared from
this port in 1895. ^^ ^^ American contractor, with our latest dredgers and
systems of building jetties, could show the Siamese Government how the
work could be done cheaply and kept easily in good condition, he might
be given the contract.

There are now in Bangkok special agents of British and German capital-
ists and manufacturers who 2^re leaving no stone unturned to get every con-
cession possible, as well as every contract open. For this, they deserve
credit. I only suggest that American agents should be here to try for their
share. They do it elsewhere; why not here? Let them bear in mind,
however, that they must compete on the same basis with Europeans. There
is absolutely no tendency to do business with Americans in preference to
Europeans. The Siamese will deal either with those who have the most
influence and backing or with those offering to do the most for the least

I have no sympathy for the statement made now and then that Asiatics
prefer to do business with Americans ; rather would I say that they are gov-
erned solely by the desire of getting the most out of any proposition possible
for themselves, for which they can hardly be blamed.

All this lends strength to my repeated argument — there should be a
strong American firm located in Bangkok, riot only to do an extensive export
and import business, but to keep in touch with new plans for development
of the country.

By what I write I do not wish to give the impression that there are op-
portunities for employment here of men merely looking for positions — the
opportunities are for men and companies having, or representing, capital.

The name and address of the Minister of Public Works, who has charge of
most improvements, is His Royal Highness Prince Bidyalabph, Minister
of Public Works, etc., Bangkok, Siam. He speaks and writes English.

Personal representatives should be sent here and dependence should not
be placed on letters alone. These representatives should be thoroughly
capable men who know their business and can show figures and data and
plans without prolonged delay.

If the chances in Siam alone may not warrant sending special men here,
there is abundant reason, in view of the trade awakening up and down this
coast from Yokohama to Singapore, for sending capable representatives to
the far East, who can include Siam in their itinerary.

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The best season to visit Siam includes November, December, January, and
February. The hottest and most disagreeable months are March, April,
and May.

The necessity of avoiding the complaint of having left unsaid what should
be known to those who might invest capital here compels me to add that it
is at times alleged that the Siamese Government is lax in its business methods
and that foreigners transacting business with it do not know what may turn
up to hinder their progress or defeat their plans. On the other hand, these
conditions, if they exist, do not deter Europeans by the score and European
companies from doing all the business they can with Siam, and should not
deter American interests. I would class these complaints as allegations
rather than facts.


Bangkok, September jo, i8g6. Minister Resident,


The German Empire has assumed the expense and management of send-
ing into eastern Asia a deputation of experts to study into and observe in
detail the commercial, financial, and industrial conditions of that country.
At a final meeting of the chosen representative members of the expedition
recently called by the Secretary of the Interior, in Germany, preparations
were completed and the entire tour of observation and study into Asia
mapped out. The party of experts are announced to sail early next month
from Bremen on the North German Lloyd steamer Sachsen. They will be
met at their destination and afterwards accompanied upon their tour by Dr.
Knappe, the German consul, who is at present stationed at Canton, China,
an arrangement which is most excellent, since consuls from much experience
and contact with the people of a country are perfectly in touch with their
surroundings. Dr. Knappe is distinguished for his superior knowledge of
the trade and business conditions and movements in Asia. He will con-
duct the members of the commission, day by day, to the various points of
interest and study.

The expedition has received some opposition and discouragement from
representative members of the chemical industry in Germany, who argue, and
lay stress upon the fact, that they, by their special trade prestige and through
their deputies located in Asia and in all parts of Japan, are as well informed
upon the subject of trade and business conditions and movements in eastern
Asia as any party of expeditionists especially appointed for the purpose
could possibly be. Nevertheless, the projected tour is to be undertaken and
systematically carried into effect, the members delegated having unanimously
decided that a personal observation of products and markets upon the scene
is apt to be better than secondary advice from the chemical agents in Asia,
and would result in greater future benefits and success to all of their indus-
trial interests. Saxony's board of trade is to be represented by six members

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in the party, who will devote their time and energy to securing a new^ market
for woolen goods.

Germany, in her efforts to establish a wide and great reputation for pro-
gressiveness, is not even satisfied with the extensive growth, in the last ten
years, of her various industries. Trade demands from America and other
large countries do not increase as she would desire, and ever alert and ready
to promote her own best interests and the progress of the nation, this expe-
dition into China has been arranged and actively furthered by the Govern-
ment as a means of establishing mutual trade in a new field. From this
enterprising standpoint, if Germany can find and control a larger market for
her industries and products in Asia, it would seem that America would have
to promptly look to her own laurels in this same direction.

It must be brought to mind that the Chinese Empire, whose population
equals that of the whole European continent, now shows signs of throwing
off some of the old methods of rigid rule by which it has been governed
almost up to the present time and is stepping out from the seclusion which
has characterized its administration in years past to its own serious detriment.
The recent much-chronicled travels of China's viceroy, Li Hung Chang,
may be regarded as very significant in this light. Hitherto, only a few of
the ports were accessible to American and European traffic, but China has
begun to realize that the policy which has been fatal to her interests hereto-
fore must be set aside and palliative measures adopted to bring about the now
much-desired closer touch with American and European countries. China
has felt keenly her ignominious defeat by Japan in the late war, but Japan's
victory proved thereby her superior methods, progressiveness, and culture,
through the medium and influence of extensive international intercourse.
What to-day has been averted from China might in a new war prove non-
avertable, if China does not hasten to strengthen her interests and open up
her portals to American and European commercial intercourse. What this
procedure means to a country of such large resources as China, with a popu-
lation of about 400,000,000, can not be adequately estimated at the present
time, considering her present extremely primitive methods of intercourse
with other countries.

The great future possibilities to be realized from these schemes of com-
mercial expedition as already taken up by France and England, and now by
Germany, can not be overestimated and should spur our great American
country to a sense of realization of future benefits to her own great interests
in the same direction. The subject should receive immediate attention and
discussion and a like plan of scientific and commercial expedition be devised
by the United States upon a scale of still greater strength.

In discussing the important question of finding larger markets for goods
of American manufacture, Americans are overconfident in one sense and too
apt to argue that if foreigners are not satisfied with American goods it is be-
cause they are lacking in good, up-to-date judgment — a method of argument
which, if good logic, is not good business policy. Much of the success of

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the English and German manufacturers in extending their foreign trade has
been owing to their readiness to meet even the most trifling conditions which
buyers impose as to style and character of the goods desired. Little success
is to be obtained in attempting to gain a foothold upon foreign markets by
seeking to force goods upon the people. Sufficient has been learned to
demonstrate that where the proper effort is made to ascertain the peculiarities
of the trade and cater to it, the results are highly satisfactory. The neces-
sities of the case now demand that American manufacturers should spare no
pains to increase their export trade, adapting their products to the exigen-
cies, harmless whims, and tastes of foreign consumers.

Glauchau, December 18 y i8g6, ConsuL


At the beginning of the work on the Transsiberian Railway, the Trans-
baikal and Amoor section was planned to extend from Chita through Sretensk,
on the shores of the River Shilka, to Pokrovskaia; thence, along the north-
ern shore of the River Amoor to Khabarovsk, to join the Ussuri Railroad
[running south to Vladivostock]. But investigation clearly showed that the
construction of a line in that section involved such technical difficulties as
would greatly increase the cost of the undertaking. Thus, for example, on
the Sretensk-Khabarovsk section, 1,667 versts (1,105 niiles) long, the cost
per verst (0.663 n^ile) would amount to the sum of 90,000 rubles ($46,260).
This first raised the question of building the Transsiberian Railway through
Chinese territory, and investigation made in Manchuria showed that it would
not only cheapen and shorten the construction of the road, but would pre-
sent other advantages. Negotiations were begun on this subject and the
result was that the Chinese Government gave a concession to the Russo-
Chinese Bank, and a new company, called the Eastern Chinese Railway Com-
pany, was formed, which is to construct and work a railway within Chinese
territory. The articles of association of the new company were sanctioned
by the Czar December 16, 1896, and by an imperial ordinance issued on the
23d of December, 1896.

The details of the arrangement are these: The association has been or-
ganized on the strength of the convention concluded August 27, 1896, by
the Chinese Government with the Russo-Chinese Government Bank for the
construction and exploitation of a railroad within the boundaries of China,
from a point on the western frontier of the province of Heilung Chang to
a point on the eastern frontier of Kirin, and to be connected with the
branches of the Transsiberian Railway which the Russian Government in-
tends to build. The company may, with the permission of the Chinese
Government, work, in connection with the railroad or separately, coal mines
and other mining, industrial, and commercial enterprises in China. In case

♦The consul-general does not state from what source his information is derived,

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such enterprises should be worked independently of the railroad, then the
company must keep a separate set of books for each of them. The Russo-
Chinese Bank takes upon itself the duty of organizing this company, and when
the same is organized all the rights and duties concerning the construction
and exploitation of the line granted by the above-mentioned convention are
conferred upon the company. The company will be considered organized
as soon as the Government Bank presents to the Minister of Finance proof

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 38 of 82)