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

Consular reports, Issues 212-215 online

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Rainy River will, in connection with roads now in operation, lack
but about 60 miles of making another all-rail route to the lake.

Another line of road to be built runs from the town of Sifton, on
the line of the Lake Manitoba Railway and Canal Company's road,
generally known as the Lake Dauphin Road, north to the Saskatch-
ewan River, a distance of about 250 miles. This is another link
added to the long-contemplated ** Hudson Bay Road," which will
undoubtedly be completed to the bay in the near future.

Both these lines of road run through good agricultural lands for
the greater part of their course, but they will also open up large
bodies of timber and mineral lands of immense value. On both of
these lines the Province of Manitoba guarantees the payment of prin-
cipal and interest of their first mortgage bonds to the amount of
$8,000 per mile and exempts the railroad properties from taxation for
the term of thirty years. This aid is given in addition to liberal land
grants and subsidies heretofore voted to these roads by the Dominion
Government.

The provincial legislature also voted a subsidy of $1,750 per mile
and a lump sum of $20,000 to the Northern Pacific Railway Com-
pany for an extension of their Brandon branch from the town of
Belmont to Hartney, on the Canadian Pacific Railway, a distance
of about 50 miles. This last-mentioned line is in the southwestern
part of this Province (Manitoba) and runs through as fine a belt of
wheat land as can be found on the continent. These several lines,
converging as they do at the city of Winnipeg, will be of great value
to the city and will materially assist in promoting its prosperity, as
well as that of the Province of Manitoba.

Wm. H. H. Graham,

Winnipeg, April jo ^ i8g8. Consul,



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350 RAILWAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA.



RAILWAYS IN SOUTH AFRICA.

Consul-General Stowe transmits from Cape Town, under date of
April i8, 1898, the following letter in response to a request for in-
formation from a railway journal of New York:*

The steam railways in South Africa are as follows:

The Cape Government Railways. General manager, C. B. El-
liott, Cape Town.

The Orange Free State Railways. Director-general, E. R.
Brounger, Bloemfontein.

The Netherlands South African Railway Company. Managing
director, G. A. A. Middelberg, Pretoria.

The Natal Government Railways. General manager, D. Hunter,
Durban, Natal.

The Bechuanaland Railway Company, Limited. Secretary, J. A.
Stevens, Cape Town.

The Indwe Railway Company. Managing director. Colonel
Schermbrucker, Cape Town.

The New Cape Central Railway Company. Agent, Sir Thomas
Scanlen, Cape Town.

The Pretoria-Pietersburg Railway (in construction). General
manager, G. Mayo, Pretoria.

The Grand Junction Railways, Limited (in construction). Sec-
retary, S. Tonkin, Cape Town.

Kowie Railway Syndicate. Manager, H. Putt, Grahamstown.

Portuguese Railways, Mozambique. Engineer director, C. Al-
bers, Lorenzo Marquez, East Africa.

Particulars of the Cape Government Railways I have pleasure in
appending, but for details as to the other railways mentioned I
must refer to the principal officers named in each.

The principal officers of the Cape Government Railways, besides
the general manager, are: Engineer-in-chief, John Brown, Cape
Town; chief locomotive superintendent, H. M. Beatty, Salt River;
chief traffic manager, T. R. Price, Cape Town; financial secretary,
James Easton, Cape Town; accounting officer, A. J. Robb, Cape
Town; chief railway storekeeper, W. Sinclair, Cape Town; agent
general in London, Sir David Tennant, Westminster; commercial
agent in New York, M. Berliner, Whitehall street.

The Cape Government Railways are divided into the following
four systems :

Western system, 592 miles open, from Cape Town to De Aar,



• Advance Shbets of report have been sent to the journal.



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COMMERCIAL CONDITIONS IN CAPE COLONY. 35 1

including the Malmesbury, Sir Lowrys Pass, Wynberg, and Simons-
town branches.

Midland system, 704 miles, from Port Elizabeth to De Aar, in-
cluding the Grahamstown and Colesberg branches.

Eastern system, 331 miles, from East London to Bethulie Bridge,
including the King Williams Town and Aliwal North branches.

Northern system, 273 miles, from De Aar to Vryburg; principal
station, Kimberley; no branches.

There are at present no lines under construction by the Govern-
ment or by contractors on behalf of the Government. Several routes
are, or have been lately, under survey; but I am not at present in a
position to say anything as to the prospects of building.



COMMERCIAL CONDITIONS IN CAPE COLONY.

DOCK FACILITIES.

There appears to be a feeling among some, at least, of the export
commission houses in the United States, that unnecessary delay in
unloading vessels sailing from the United States is caused by par-
tiality on the part of the dock authorities.

I have been unable to discover, after much inquiry among mer-
chants who buy American goods, that delay in unloading is caused
by any favoritism; it is rather due to inadequate dock facilities.
I am pleased to report that these have been materially improved.
New and commodious docks are being built, with large warehouses
thereon. Several traction engines have been purchased, each capable
of hauling heavily loaded drays or wagons. I therefore believe that
the complaints mentioned will soon be of the past.

All coal used in this colony and on several lines of steamers that
touch here is brought from Cardiff, South Wales. Coal of good
quality has been found here, and 2oo» tons per day is now being
delivered in Cape Town. If, on full trial, this coal proves to have
the necessary steaming qualities, the present dock, with the exten-
sions now in course of erection, will be more than ample. Vessels
that are now obliged to go out in ballast can then load with coal if
they wish to enter other ports, which will be a source of revenue
not only to the colony, but to the owners of vessels as well ; and
freight rates, which are now based on outward cargo alone, can then
be reduced on part at least of the homeward cargo.

Again, the difference in the price of coal will be of advantage to
owners of vessels homeward bound. Seven dollars and twenty-five
cents per ton is the present price of Cardiff coal, against $4.12 per
ton for Cape Colony coal, which will lessen as the output increases.



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352 COMMERCIAL CONDITIONS IN CAPE COLONY.

The harbor board that has full charge of the docks is a corpor-
ation which borrowed the necessary capital from the Government for
the erection of said docks, and which has complete control for all
time. That it will work for the interests of all concerned, as soon
as the extensive improvements under construction are completed, is
not doubted.

FREIGHT RATES.

I think that shippers from the United States to this country have
no reason to complain of the freight rates, as compared with those
from other countries, although some of the vessels that transport
American goods to the ports of South Africa are owned in those
very countries.

The New York rate is now about $2 per ton of 40 cubic feet less
than from Hull, England. At one time the difference was greater
in favor of the United States, but complaints by other countries
brought about a reduction in their favor. With better docking
facilities and cheaper coal for homeward voyages, freights must be,
in tinie, materially reduced.

Recently a new German line of steamers, known as the German-
Australian Steamship Company (the Deutsch Australische Dampf-
schiffs Gesellschaft), has entered the field and will cause keen
competition, as a reduction of 25s. ($5.85) per ton is offered to Port
Elizabeth, on the African coast. The service will be every four
weeks from Hamburg and Antwerp; but goods are also taken from
other ports in Europe and for other ports in South Africa. From
June, 1898, the service will be doubled and made fortnightly. The
company is an old established one, and is not dependent upon this
trade alone; being thus free from the consideration of return cargo
from South Africa, which plays such a part in the high rates of
existing lines.

LANDING CERTIFICATES.

Complaints have been made that both the captain and mate of
ships arriving at South American ports are ** compelled to visit the
consular office," in order to take oath that the goods or merchandise
enumerated in the certificate were actually delivered, and this visit
is demanded by the consul in order that he may obtain the fee. It
should be stated that the fee does not belong to the consul, but to
the Government, and the certificate of the revenue officer or con-
signee is sufficient when the affidavit of the master is not procurable.

EXPORT COMMISSION HOUSES.

Some of the most important merchants in this country are de-
sirous of purchasing direct from the manufacturers of the United
States, without the intervention of what is known as ** export corn-



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COMMERCIAL CONDITIONS IN CAPE COLONY. 353

mission houses," or middlemen, and while this is a subject I approach
with some hesitation, yet I offer my views, with the desire to benefit
our manufacturers and producers. That in time this direct pur-
chasing will be advantageous I admit, but at present the legitimate
export commission houses are the opposite of detrimental to the ex-
tension of our foreign trade. I refer to the class of houses that act as
agents, buying such goods only as their clients may order, contract-
ing the freight and insurance, and paying the manufacturer cash on
receipt of the goods. Being large buyers, they are enabled to pur-
chase at low prices, and being large shippers, they are enabled to con-
tract lower rates of freight. They are able to sell more goods at
less expense than would the manufacturers. Representing as they
do varied lines, they are sure to sell some line meeting the need of
the customer, and it is for their interest, as they work on commis-
sion, to use every energy to sell all the goods.

There is some complaint against so-called ** export jobbers," who
buy of the manufacturers at the lowest possible cost and sell to the
foreign buyers at the highest price they can secure ; and who often
resort to substitution of goods of lower quality or bought of a differ-
ent manufacturer than the one the foreign buyer may have specified,
thus damaging the interests of both foreign buyer and manufacturer.

There are also, it is alleged, those who publish so-called ** prices
current," on which are advertised goods of various manufacturers.
They often quote prices that they can not meet when order is
received.

The legitimate export commission houses pay all expenses, and
take fair compensation for service and credit granted ; in short, they
act as the banker for a foreign buyer and are the bridge between
the American maker and the foreign buyer. The manufacturer is
saved the expense of introduction and all risk.

ADVANTAGE OF AN AMERICAN BANK.

The following is an illustration of the conditions when an ex
porting house ships goods and draws drafts to cover value:

If the draft is drawn on New York through British bankers or
their agents, the charges for, say, a ninety days' draft are:

Per cent.

Charge for collection i

Charge for four months' interest at 6 per cent 2

Charge for two months* interest i

Total 4

The second charge is to cover time of transit of draft and the
ninety days from acceptance to payment. The banker here in South
Africa remits to the New York banker a ninety days' draft on Lon-
don, so that by the time this gets to New York it has two months
No. 214 3.



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354 COMMERCIAL CONDITIONS IN CAPE COLONY.

yet to run, and for this the last charge of i per cent for interest is
made.

This is not the only loss. When the original draft is made,
sterling is worth, say, $4.85 to the pound, but during the five months
covered by the draft before it gets back to New York exchange may
go down, so that the shipper may get $4.78, or perhaps only $4.75;
so that the additional loss is the difference of, say, 9 cents on every
pound sterling.

American manufacturers are dependent on competitors in foreign
countries to ship their goods and collect their drafts. An American
bank (international) would help to increase the export trade. Two
months* interest might be saved, as well as all exchange, for then
draft could be made for dollars and dollars received. In addition,
American manufacturers, producers, and exporters would be able to
receive reliable information as to the financial standing of foreign
merchants, which can not be done through British banks or their
agencies.

HOW TO SELL GOODS IN SOUTH AFRICA.

The development of South Africa will be speedy as soon as cer-
tain questions are settled and irrigation introduced, and it is for this
time that our manufacturers should prepare. Men of experience
should be sent to canvass and ascertain the needs of the market, the
competitors, the prices paid, etc.

Our manufacturers object to carrying out the wishes of foreign
customers when such views conflict with their own; they dislike to
change methods, and consequently do not cater to foreign wants as
do the manufacturers of other countries, particularly England and
Germany. If the foreign trade desires nails packed in kegs of 112
pounds, instead of the American keg of 100 pounds; if it desires
certain cheap cloths dyed in the yarn, instead of the piece; if it
wants vehicles with seats 6 inches wider, and with no wider ** track;"
if it desires the boxes in which goods are shipped dovetailed at the
corners, or strapped with iron; if it wants goods sent in bags of a
certain quality, when barrels have previously been used ; if it desires
a change of style of package — all these wishes should be complied
with.

The Germans particularly are willing to do anything to get the
ousiness, and with their ships reducing freight rates (as detailed in
another part of this report), they naturally obtain their share of the
trade. They also gladly sell on ninety days* time. At present,
business is dull, the drought, rinderpest, and fly, and the state of
affairs in the South African Republic, causing hindrance to trade;
but these conditions can not last.

When orders are given, they must be large, for the reason that



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COMMERCIAL CONDITIONS IN CAPE COLONY. 355

good stocks must be carried, as communication with foreign coun-
tries is slow. The stores (and I have visited all of them) carry
stocks of which many of our jobbers in the United States would be
proud. It must be borne in mind that Cape Colony demands ;^2$
($121.50) per year for license to sell, and the South African Re-
public ;;^2o ($97.20). A duty on samples is also asked.

OPENINGS FOR TRADE.

To the question ** What business might be profitably introduced
in South Africa?" I would say that an American like myself misses
many conveniences, and even what we call in America necessities;
but residents here look upon them as luxuries, and very easily get
along without them. That there are opportunities, I admit, but it
would be unwise, to say the least, to venture to advise or to state
positively that any business would be profitable. There are a num-
ber of Americans in trade in this country, and, while many have
made money, others have lost. This answer may not appear very
satisfactory, but a consul would be condemned if he raised hopes
that might not be fulfilled.

EXPOSITION OF UNITED STATES PRODUCTS.

Such an exposition would be of advantage if it were open to all,
and not to houses handling only certain lines. To be successful, it
should be general and should be properly advertised, so that all who
desire to exhibit could do so, with expenses shared **pro rata."

It would not be necessary for each manufacturer or export house
to have a representative present; the exhibits could be placed in
charge of a few, who would be employed by all.

Arrangements should be made, if possible, for the free introduc-
tion through the custom-house of Cape Colony of all samples for
exhibition ; and, in the event any samples were sold, duty could be
paid on the same. Samples of not only machinery, but tinned
goods, pease, beans, apples, dried fruits, furniture, stamped goods,
etc., should be sent. An exposition will solve the difficulty that
now presents itself in the introduction of some American products.
In dealing with the buyers of this country, samples are absolutely
essential.

LABOR.

I append a tabulated statement of wages, but it must be borne in
mind that the cost of living is very much higher than in America.
A ride on the streetcar costs 12 cents; a pair of shoe strings 6 cents,
and board $10 per week.

Situations for clerks, bookkeepers, salesmen, etc., are scarce.
There are, in fact none, all having been filled by men who came here



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356



TRANSPORTATION IN NICARAGUA.



years ago, more particularly from Great Britain. Many have re-
turned to their old homes, and many are here stranded. This office
is besieged by hundreds of Americans in want and asking for help.
Some have come and succeeded, but they brought sufficient funds to
carry them over. There are always, in good times, openings for
skilled mechanics. The great bulk of Americans have gone to the
mines, but the situation there is deplorable. The wages given are
those paid in Cape Town ; in the country they are increased, but the
cost of living is proportionally higher. The amounts given are
the maximum :



Workmen.



Bookbinders per week.

Blacksmiths do....

Bricklayers do....

Boilermakers do....

Bakers do....

Bookkeepers. per month.

Cooks, with board do....

Coachmen, with board per week.

Compositors do....

Carpenters do....

Curriers and tanners. do....

Cabinetmakers do....

Clerks per month.

Engineers per week.

Gas fitters do....

Harness makers do....



Wages.



|l2.00
15.00
19.50
16.50
16.50

75* 00
50.00
6.25
15.00
18.00
20.00
20.00
50.00
15.00
15.00
15.00



Workmen.



Hack drivers per week

Housemaids, with board. ..per month

Masons per week

Molders .do...

Machinists do...

Painters do...

Plasterers do....

Tinsmiths do....

Tailors do....

Plumbers do....

Pipefitters do....

Porters. do....

Wagon drivers do....

Wagon makers do....

Waiters, with board per month

Salesmen do....



Wages.



I7.00
17.00
15-00
16.50
15.00
7.00
15.00
15.00
30.00
20.00
20.00
5.00
7.00
15.00
30.00
60.00



Cape Town, April /, 18^8,



J. G. Stowe,
Consul' General.



TRANSPORTATION IN NICARAGUA: DECISION
OF ARBITRATOR (CORRECTION).

The Department is in receipt of a letter from Gen. E. P. Alex-
ander, dated San Juan del Norte, April 12, 1898, in regard to a
report transmitted by Mr. William B. Sorsby, United States consul
at that place, and published in Consular Reports No. 212 (May,
1898). General Alexander was the arbitrator in the transportation
question referred to in the report, and he wishes to say that the
statement in the report, to the effect that the decision had interrupted
traffic, was misleading. He continues:

The adverse decision was not given until February 18. The suspension of all
traffic and the formal taking possession of the boats took place on or before the
7th. The occasion of this action was the breaking out of the recent revolution, and
its actual occurrence is referred to in the decision as justifying the Government in



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GERMANY S TRADE WITH SOUTH AMERICA.



357



the precautionary placing of the guards in question. Tranquillity is not yet restored,
and the Government is still in possession; but the company's agent here informs
me that the company is. and always has been, ready and anxious to resume opera-
tions whenever the military situation will permit the Government to surrender
control.



GERMANY'S TRADE WITH SOUTH AMERICA.

The successful attempts of the United States to improve its com-
mercial relations with South America have excited the interest of
the German trade to a high degree, and, now that the first excite-
ment about China has subsided, the influential newspapers again
turn their attention to South America. Scarcely a day passes that
an article does not appear referring to this subject.

Considering the great success of German industry within the
last ten years, it is surprising how very insignificant is the progress
of its exports to the South American republics. In 1888, Germany
sent to those markets commodities to the value of $41,000,000; in
1896, the export amounted to $41,500,000. This result is the more
remarkable, as the imports from South America during the same
period have risen from $63,500,000 to $79,700,000. There is thus a
growth of the imports of more than $16,000,000, against an increase
in exports of about $500,000.

Upon examining the most important articles of export from Ger-
many to South America, one can not help noticing that they are
almost exclusively products of the German textile and iron indus-
tries — closely woven cotton cloth, hosiery, worsted goods, and coarse
ironware. Only in a few instances have bottled beer, fine wood-
work, sugar, printing paper, and faience been classed among the
more important articles.

The following table shows the changes which have taken place
in the German exportations in the four classes of goods named (in
double cwts., equal to 220.46 pounds):



To-


Cotton cloth.


Hosiery.


Coarse iron.


Woolen goods.


1896.


1897.


1896.


1897.


1
1896. 1897.

1


1896.


1897.


Arfirentinc RcDublic


11,079
15.329
10,595


5.406
10,056
12,105


2,967
3,613
2.589


2,879
2,822
3.901


40,705
50,592
24,644


26,765
37,659
14.037


3.629
6,137
5,635


3,124


Brazil


3.255


Chile


4,286







The result of the export to these three States of South America
(the most important for German trade) is, therefore, very discour-
aging for the manufacturers here. Exports to the Argentine Re-



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358



GERMANY S TRADE WITH SOUTH AMERICA.



public and Brazil decreased considerably in 1897. For other arti-
cles, the following figures are given:



Articles.



1896.



1897.



A rgeniine Republic.

Coppered iron wire

Cartridges

Brasil.

Iron rails.

Fine ironware....

Fine wooden ware

Cast-iron machinery

Chile.

Rifles.

Candy and loaf sugar



Dbl. ratts.


Dbl. cwts.


226,764


200,034


9,>5i


7.3«2


178,259


7,163


",753


9,063


6,324


2,767


6,137


3.255


♦1,978
60,642




58.447



♦ Value nearly $650,000.

The decrease in 1897 applies also to other countries of South
America, as shown by the following table :



Country.


Cotton cloth.


Hosiery. Coarse iron.


Woolen goods.


1896.


1897.


1896.


1897.


1896.


1897.


1896.


1897.


Colombia


D.cwts.
2,319
4,203
2,778
2,782


D. cwts.
2,184
2,829
>,5i7
1.442


D. cwts.

642

925

1.303

547


D. cwts.

710

1,058

780

400


n. cwts.
6,817
3,172
3,020
5.301


D. cwts.
6,929
3.348
1,575
6,441


D. cwts.

1,476

1,287

1,328

309


D. cwts.

1,496

916

894

183


Peru


UrufiTuav....


Venezuela





The result is, relatively, somewhat better as far as these four
countries are concerned, but even here the balance inclines to loss.

The trade with Uruguay shows a falling off of the German ex-
ports in 1897 in every class of goods, even those not mentioned
above. Germany's exports to Uruguay in 1896 and 1897 were as
follows :



Articles.



1896.



1897.



Coppered iron wire...

Fine ironware

Cast-iron machinery..

Yam

Printing paper



f. cwts.


Dble. cwts.


57,572


39.272


930


722


4,129


623


177


85


7,615


4.095



As regards Venezuela, the German exports in coarse ironware
show an improvement; but the decrease in textiles, bottled beer,
and faience is serious. The trade has been better in Peru and Colom-



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GERMANY S TRADE WITH SOUTH AMERICA.



359



bia. It shows good results in cotton hosiery and coarse ironware ;
also, in worsted goods to Colombia. On the other hand, there has
been a decline of exports of cotton cloth and ironware.

German exports to Bolivia and Ecuador in 1896 and 1897 were as
follows :





Articles.


1896.


i8q7.


Cotton cloth


Bolivia.


Ddie. cwts.

1.370

695

1,263

327
1,164

•459


Dftie. c^vts.
807
498

i,77«

469

a, 145


Worsted goods.



Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 212-215 → online text (page 46 of 83)