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

Consular reports, Issues 160-163 online

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Goods are sent to the interior either by rail or bullock cart, and the in-
land transit is as creditably performed here as it is, perhaps, in any other
country. No special attention need be paid to size and character of packages,
except to provide that they are not overbulky or weak in construction.


Shippers should use packages which to their own knowledge are best
suited to their goods, and all perishable articles should be in waterproof
packages. Glass and glassware should be packed in casks; also, iron hollow
ware. Liquids should be in casks, tanks, or drums.


No duty is leviable on packages the contents of which are merchan-
dise, except in case of gross imposition, such as, for example, the packing
of merchandise in real trunks or in some manufactured articles of domestic
furniture. Even in this respect a single package would not, as a rule, be re-
garded as liable to duty; and the practice would pass unnoticed, unless it
became systematic.


Colombo, August 22^ iSgj. ConsuL

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The port of Amoy has no wharf of any kind or description. The landing
of passengers and goods is effected by sampans and cargo boats. All the
vessels are moored in midstream. The sampans are for passenger traffic
only, but often they will land small lots of merchandise without being inter-
fered with by the cargo-boats company, who enjoy a monopoly in this trade.
The cargo boats can moor alongside the bund at high tide, but when the
water is even at its lowest mark it can always be reached by jetties (landing
piers) stretching far out into the sea, which renders the landing of goods
more difficult.

All the European firms in Amoy possess large and substantially built go-
downs attached to their individual business offices, and for the storage of
kerosene oil special warehouses are built on the most convenient spots in the
island of Kulangsoo. There is also a public godown belonging to the im-
p»erial Chinese customs situated within the custom-house compound, which
affords ample room for the storage of merchandise and opium. Because of
the steady increase in quantity of the import of kerosene oil the Amoy Dock
Company has caused a new godown to be built at the Ling Tow jetty, in the
Island of Kulangsoo, for the accommodation of merchants, and it is so large
*^that it is capable of storing from 80,000 to 100,000 cases of kerosene oil at
one time.

Kerosene oil, imported from New York in sailing vessels, is the only
American product which reaches Amoy direct. According to the customs
quarterly returns, which contain a detailed report on the trade of Amoy, there
was nothing imported from the United States. But American goods — tinned
provisions, patent medicines, clocks, watches, lamps, tools, cotton piece
goods, yams, threads, and machinery — ^are seen in every store in the city.
The customs authorities do not class these as American imports, because they
are always shipped from Hongkong or Shanghai, and are classed as goods
imported from these two ports. American manufacturers at home will there-
fore have to ascertain the particular methods of packing and the exact re-
quirements from their agents or customers at those places which have direct
steam communication with New York and the cities on the Pacific coast,
for there is no direct line of communication of this kind between Amoy and
the United States. The only vessels that clear from Amoy to the United
^States are tea steamers, and the only vessels that come to Amoy from the
Ujrtited States are sailing ships. These are of great capacity, are laden with
kerosene oil, and sail from New York direct for Amoy two or three times a
year. This trade has been in the hands of the Americans ever since the
Chinese learned its use, and until very recently the Americans monopolized
the trade. But the Batoum oil found its way into Amoy two years ago,

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and the trade has already reached large proportions. Asa consequence, the
import of American kerosene has declined to such a degree that the quantity
of Batoum oil imported during the last quarter was 36,000 gallons more than
that of the American. The following statistics for the last few years will
substantiate the correctness of this statement :














Kiissinn ".

• None.

From the above it is seen that the Russian oil made its first appearance
here in 1892, and it would appear as if the American article would soon be
entirely driven out of the market unless the American producers and exporters
improve their packing and exercise more care and attention in the ship-
ping of the oil. I am told by some of the dealers here that they have re-
peatedly warned the American producers of the danger to their trade in this
line by reason of the Russian article reaching the market in better condition.

The trade in kerosene is an important one, and it will continue to be as
long as the Government prohibits the native oil springs from being worked.
To the great majority of the people it is an indispensable article. In the
interior, as well as in cities and towns along the coast, stores for selling kero-
sene oil are found in great numbers. Peddlers selling this commodity alone
are seen plying fheir trade from village to village, selling the oil to the farm-
ers and peasants by the ounce and catty (one catty=i^ pounds), thereby
making a profit of 50 per cent or more — an avocation which was never
known to the people until quite recently. Lamps for burning this oil have
been invented by the natives, and these are made to suit their own peculiar
taste and economy. The natives prefer kerosene to their own bean or pea-
nut oils, because it is much cheaper. In spite of the strong prejudice of the
local authorities to it, on account of its inflammable character, and notwith-
standing the stringent orders issued repeatedly for its total suppression, its
use is steadily on the increase. The people are not at all daunted by such
action, and will secure what seems to them most economical. It is evident,
therefore, that the trade is but in its infancy. When the teeming millions
of population is taken into consideration, the United States will find no bet-
ter market in the world than China for this product, as well as other products.
Is it not a pity, then, that the United States should lose their monopoly of
this trade because the Russians give more care and attention to their pack-

The improvements required are not difficult to attain. It is purely a
question of care and labor. Experts have declared repeatedly that the qual-
ity of American oil is much superior to the Russian, but the tins and wooden
boxes on arrival here are in such a condition as to require repacking. On
this account opportunities are given to the unscrupulous godown-keepers to

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make a little "extra" in surplus oil. It is not an unusual thing to buy a
new tin of oil, apparently perfect in every outward appearance, but when
opened to find it half filled with water; and there is no way of bringing the
culprit to justice or recouping the buyer. This is not all, for I have heard
complaints from many sources that the tins are often entirely filled with noth-
ing but sea water. All this is due to the necessity of repacking after the
goods have been landed.

The Russian oil has no such disadvantages, for every case discharged
from the ship is as clean and in as good condition as when loaded at Batoum.
As there is no necessity for repacking there is no opportunity for adultera-

The Russian packing is in every respect the same as the American, except
that the wooden case is made of spruce instead of pine. On this account
there is hardly any leakage, and none of the boxes are ever broken.

If Americans can devise some means to prevent the leakage caused by
the rusting of the tins and the wear and tear experienced during the voyage
from the United States to China, the trade may revive in spite of Russian
competition. This will lessen all the chances for fraud so commonly prac-
ticed by the godown-keepers here, and the superiority of the "Stella" brand
will be reestablished.


Acting Consul,

Amoy, October 20^ iSgj,



We have no direct importations to any extent of American goods.
American products are imported by foreigners, and in some cases by Chi-
nese, at either Shanghai, Hongkong, or Canton, and purchased by the mer-
chants of Fuchau from these importers.

The three most important lines of goods coming to this port from the
United States are cotton textiles, kerosene oil, and condensed milk. Small
quantities of American wrought wire-nail rods, clocks and watches, canned
goods, toys, etc., are also received.


Goods are landed by lighters (cargo boats) at Pagoda Anchorage, lo
miles from Fuchau, and thus brought to the city. They are placed in good
warehouses and are well protected from the elements.


Goods go into the interior by carriers (coolies), who bear them on bamboo
poles. They can be handled to best advantage by being packed in parcels
weighing about loo to 150 pounds. They are usually handled with care.

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If they come in much larger or heavier parcels they have to be repacked to
go into the interior, which will subject them to interior likin taxes, whereas
original packages can go under the ordinary transit pass.


The best material for outside covering depends upon the goods — kero-
sene in tin cans in wooden cases, two cans to a case ; cloth in bales well pro-
tected by any waterproof burlap or canvas.

In sending goods to this market, dealers must comply with the instruc-
tions sent to them by importers concerning the packing of the same, as there
are many peculiarities that may seem unnecessary or even unreasonable which
nevertheless are important in China.


Customs duties are not charged on covers, boxes, canvas, or other things
used as wrappings.


FucHAU, September 27, i8gj.



American goods come to Hongkong by steamships and sailing vessels,
and are not handled or disturbed en route.


The goods are unloaded into lighters, and from the lighters into ware-
houses (locally known as **godowns**).


Goods are distributed by river steamers or junks. The size and weight
of package need not be considered with Chinese porters.


With respect to the various classes of merchandise exported from the
United States to Hongkong, the present mode of packing seems to be gen-
erally satisfactory.

The most important articles of export from the United States to China
are kerosene and flour. The former is packed in wooden cases, each con-
taining two rectangular 5-gallon tins. It is carried in sailing ships, and a
cargo rarely arrives without a large proportion of the packages having been
somewhat damaged by sea water, but I have been unable to obtain any sug-
gestion for improvements on the present mode of packing. The flour arrives
in what are known as ** quarter sacks," weighing about 50 pounds each, and

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this method of packing appears perfectly to satisfy the requirements of the
dealers here.

With respect to the packing of other articles imported into Hongkong
from the United States, I can not do better than to give the subjoined extract
from a letter received from the largest importer of such merchandise in
Hongkong :

We have great pleasure in stating that the packing of all the goods we have procured for
the past ten years from the United States — hardware, clocks, canned goods and provisions,
cottons, tobacco, cigarettes, perfumery, soap, oil, lamps, milk, machinery, etc. — has been par
excellence in every way, giving ourselves and clients every satisfaction. We do not remember
ever having made a complaint under this head. We have no hesitation whatever in stating
that no European country packs better or more economically, many not half so well. We are
unable to offer any suggestion by way of improvement.


Hongkong is a free port, and no duties whatever are levied on imports.


Hongkong, Seplember 2, i8gj.


One of the peculiarities of China that first attracts the attention of the
stranger is the total absence of large packages or boxes.

In packing goods intended for this market too much attention can not
be paid to the security of the covers. All American goods are first landed
at Shanghai, and thence transshipped to Ningpo by steamer, by sailing
vessel, or by small boats via canals. The dealers in the United States who
cater to this trade have constantly kept in mind the very important fact that
all merchandise is moved by man power. Probably the best way to impress
upon our merchants the size and weights best adapted for China is to point
out to them the size of the tea chest, the bolt of silk, and the roll of mat-
ting. If our merchants conform to the size, style, and weight of these
packages, they will be putting their goods in the condition most suitable for
this market.

Oils, matches, and iron are brought to Ningpo from Shanghai in small
sailing vessels, steamers generally refusing such goods as cargo.


All Other merchandise (foreign) is brought in steamers that generally go
alongside of wharves and unload at the dock. The packages are all of a
size, and are easily managed by one, two, or three coolies, without the aid
of any mechanical appliances. The cargo is then carried into the godowns
(warehouses) by being slung to bamboo poles, the poles resting on the
No. 160 15.

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shoulders of two men. If the package is heavier than usual, the "bearing"
pole is much larger and longer, and a sufficient number of men get under
the pole at both ends to carry it.

The aim of the shipping people is, of course, to unload the vessel as
quickly as possible, and consequently the cargo is left on the wharves for
hours, and is, of course, exposed to the elements, though an effort is made
to protect the goods in the event of rain by throwing a covering of matting
over them. All goods are under cover in the night time.

It is proper to say here that there is not a wheeled vehicle of any kind
in this district, not even a wheelbarrow.


Man is the "beast of burden." Horses are used only for the post and
army. Everything is either carried on the backs or shoulders of coolies or
in boats. If the merchant will keep in mind that the merchandise he puts
up for the China market is to be carried for, perhaps, hundreds of miles on
the shoulders of men, he will realize how very important it is that the pack-
age should be of convenient shape and weight.

The boats that carry the merchandise inland are generally about 30 or
40 feet long, not more than 7 feet beam, i or 2 feet deep, and carry a crew
generally of one or two men, who sleep on top of the cargo, which is shielded
from the sun and rain by a straw cover. A day's journey either by land or
by water is 33^ miles.

A coolie aims to get two packages of equal weight. These are suspended
one from each end of his ix)le, which is raised to the waist or as far as the
ropes that are tied to the package will permit. He then stoops and places
the middle of the pole on his shoulder, with his left hand guiding the pack-
age in the rear and his right resting on the ropes of the package in front.
Having arranged all to his satisfaction, he slowly straightens up, and with a
"He, ho, he, ho," starts off with a swinging gait, which he keeps up for
hours. These coolies generally travel in companies, both for companionship
and for better security, and as they jog along over the narrow, rough, stone
paths, their heavy burdens swinging from side to side, they laugh and joke
and are seemingly contented and happy.

As one travels in the interior, it is with surprise he sees how large is this
inland traffic, with boats swiftly sailing through canals or on rivers to remote
towns and villages far in the interior laden with foreign and domestic goods
for local consumption.

The natural facilities in the way of rivers have been fully availed of and
added to by broad and numerous canals, while the footpaths connect with
the outlying hamlets.

In the cities far from the sea one sees boxes and bales being rapidly
carried along, swinging from poles, that bear familiar name§ of factories at

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Though the Chinese manage by sheer strength to move large and cum-
bersome packages, it can be seen how very desirable it is to have a small,
compact package. Therefore, with the view of assisting our merchants, I
offer the following suggestions :

Dry goods, — Pack in bolts or boxes; length not to exceed the width of
the fabric and not more than 60 or 75 pounds in weight, less if possible ;
covering to be of close, strong canvas, waterproof, securely fastened; boxes
to be fastened with iron bands or else with screws or wire nails.

Groceries, — Pack in boxes, water-tight and, in most cases, tin lined.
Flour is the principal article bought here, and should 'be put up in small
packages — say in 5, 10, or 15 pound boxes — or bags placed in a tin-lined
box, not to exceed 75 pounds to a box.

Liquids, — Pack in tin (unless corrosive) covered with wood, just as kero-
sene oil is now shipped, two 5-gallon cans in a wooden box. At all events,
vessels holding liquids should be packed in wooden boxes and well protected
from the danger of breaking.

Iron manufactures, — Pack in as small and convenient a size as the nature
of the article will permit.

Hardware, — The same as iron manufactures; of course, means of protec-
tion from rust being provided.

China is a nation of small things. Exports should be packed in as small
space and as small quantities as possible, and packed to withstand rough
usage. All packages should be covered with waterproof material. A little
more expense may thus be incurred, but in the long run it will be more
than compensated for by the increased sales.

One of the most important influences upon the sales of American kerosene
oil is the manner in which it is packed. The nice, well-made tins covered
with neat boxes tend to greatly increase the sales of American oil over that
from Batoum, the latter coming here in dirty, leaking cans. The Chinese
find use for everything. The tin cans are used for water buckets or put to
the various uses of the tinsmith, and the box finds a ready sale. So it would
be with the coverings of other merchandise. A bolt of cotton with its clean
and durable cover would soon crowd out the bolt without any cover.

A safe rule is not to make any package heavier than what a single man

can lift and to cover that package securely.


NiNGPO, September 27 ^ ^Sgj.


Immediately upon receipt of circular I addressed the various American
merchants in Shanghai, requesting them to give me their views regarding
the most suitable manner of packing American goods to meet local as well

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as transit requirements, in order that I might transmit them to the Depart-

The following is a copy of a reply which I have received from the China
and Japan Trading Company, that briefly and distinctly covers the substance
of the Department's instruction as far as Shanghai is concerned :

We deal in nearly all classes of imports from the United States, and have no change to
suggest in the method of packing, which as at present effected meets the wants and views of
our customers.

Goods reach this port by sailing ve^els, and from New York by rail and steamers via
San Francisco, Vancouver, and Tacoma; also by direct steamers via the Suez Canal, and a
snudl portion by steamers via London and the Suez Canal.

The goods are landed both by covered lighters and at wharves, a portion being in almost
every case lightered. All goods are warehoused immediately on landing.

They are shipped to the interior by steamers, native boats, wheelbarrows, and porters, and
as at present packed they meet the requirements, as does also the material for packing and
the package used.

Customs duties on dry goods are specific, charged only on contents; on other goods, mostly
ad valorem on the market value here, which, as cost of package is not separated from cost of
contents, may be said to be on the package, as well as the contents.


Consul- GencraL

Shanghai, September 25, iSgj.


Goods come to northern China (Tien-Tsin) via San Francisco and Japan
or via London and the Suez Canal, and coming by both routes they are usu-
ally transshipped at Shanghai. They are sometimes transshipped at Yoko-
hama coming from the east and usually at London coming from the west.


Goods are usually landed at the wharves in Tien-Tsin, but in case the
vessel is unable to cross the bar at Taku, a small proportion of the cargo is
discharged by lighters.

Warehouses are provided at Tien-Tsin, and on arrival goods are either
placed in the warehouses, or, if left on the **bund," are thoroughly covered.


Goods are shipped into the interior by boat or by cart as far as Peking
in the north, Paoting Fu in the west, and to an indefinite distance south.
Goods for Shansi and for northern Chihli and Mongolia proceed from Pao-
ting Fu and Peking on pack mules. Parcels which go by mules should not
exceed 150 ix)unds, which make half a load, or 470 pounds, which make a
two-mule load. The latter size is always to be avoided, if possible, as the

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rule of Chinese carriers is to charge for two mules the rate for three mules
when they carry heavy articles suspended between them.

The usage to which goods are subjected en route to the interior is not
particularly rough, but as the roads are bad and the carts springless, goods
traveling by cart are severely jolted.


Goods coming from San Francisco need not be packed with as much
care as those which come by the longer route via the Suez Canal. Goods
arrive in first-rate condition in all of the forms mentioned, but everything
liable to be injured by moisture should be invariably protected by water-
proof, and also put up so as to make thieving difficult. Cotton cloth should
be packed in waterproof bales covered with gunny sacking and hooped
with iron. The more delicate forms of dry goods and groceries should be
packed in tin-lined boxes. Tin-lined boxes should not be used unnecessa-
rily, however, for trade competition makes the cost of the cases a considera-

Liquids should be very carefully packed in sawdust or other similar
material. Complaint is made here of carelessness on the part of American
firms in packing liquids, and I know of cases in which parties have given up
ordering American drugs simply because of the excessive breakage in ship-
ments from the United States.

All articles of iron must be thoroughly protected by wooden crates, and
here, as in the case of drugs and liquids, complaint is made of careless and
slovenly packing on the part of American exporters.

Chinese customs duties are usually ad valorem, and in cases when they
are imposed by weight the tare allowance is always liberal, so that no special
precautions are necessary to avoid customs charges. While various forms
of packages are satisfactory, yet if American exporters are to compete suc-
cessfully with European exporters greater pains must be taken with all the
details of packing. Only in this way can the existing prejudice against
American exporters be overcome.

One of our importers has called my attention to the great room for im-
provement in the shaping of various articles with reference to economy of
space. In shipping to the antipodes any saving in this direction becomes

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 160-163 → online text (page 25 of 87)