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

Consular reports, Issues 224-227 online

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1. 451



























* I kilogram =3. 2046 pounds.



The following report is taken from an article by Messrs. Fred.
Huth & Co., who have given a most excellent review of the situation
of the wool market as it affects the commerce of France.

Two causes have had a serious eflfect on the wool market and the general wool
industry. The first of 'these is the great decrease in the Australian production, with
the consequent scarcity of merino types and the absence of the American demand
cither for the raw material or manufactured product.

The deficit in the Australian production resulting from three consecutive dry
seasons was foreseen, and may be estimated at about 160,000 bales. Drought is
frequent in the colonies, but a falling oflF in the wool production in consequence of
this has been remarked only during the last few years, as, heretofore, new runs have
supplied the deficit. This is not now the case; woolgrowers, having become dis-
couraged by the low price of their product, find a better market for their sheep as
food, as refrigerator cars permit them to ship to distant markets.

It is probable that the only supply of wool for some time to come must be looked

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for only from the runs now established, and one bad season like 1896 or 1898 will
cause a real deficit. In 1898, the situation was somewhat relieved by the surplus
New Zealand and La Plata wools. The merino type has been gradually decreasing
for the past three years, and is not larger now than ten years ago; cross wools are
constantly increasing, Forty per cent of the whole production of the colonies and
La Plata is of the cross-breed type, against 18 per cent in 1888. The scarcity of
the merino type and the abundance of common types could not fail to react on the
market; so, notwithstanding the unsettled and unsatisfactory condition of business,
merinos. have risen 8 to 10 per cent, fine cross wools are stationary, and middling
and common types, which compose the greater part of the cross-breed production,
have lowered 15 to 25 per cent.

These contradictory fluctuations have been injurious to the wool industry.
Spinners of fine wool have suffered through the rise in the raw material, as they
have not been able to compensate themselves by a corresponding rise in their man-
ufactured product. Manufacturers of common wool have not been able to derive
profit from low price, by reason of the constant falling tendency of the market. It
is possible that the turning point has been reached, so far as common types are
concerned; but any profit to be derived will be a matter for the future.

The wool industry in Europe, whether flourishing or otherwise, has depended,
for the past five years, on the exportation to the United States. So long as the
States bought, all was well, but when that market failed nothing remained to re-
place it. This immense influence is said to be due not so much from the im-
portance of the trade as from the uncertainties resulting from the frequent and
radical changes in the American tariff. The exportation of yarns and dress goods
for the English market from the Continent is nearly stable and represents an annual
sum of about $40,000,000, which may fluctuate 10 per cent, according to whether the
season is good or bad. In the United States, however, the importations during
the last four years have varied from $32,000,000 to $5,500,000, falling off to one-fifth
of the first amount in the course of one year. The same may be said of wool.
There was a time, before 1893, when the American demand could be estimated.
The statistics of the United States show that between 1887 and 1898 the value of
importations of wool and wool goods from all parts of the world was annually
about J6o,ooo,ooo(in round numbers), the yearly difference before 1893 being slight,
particularly taking into consideration the high prices of the first few years. Since
1893, however, there have been great fluctuations. The following is a table of the
importations into the United States of wool and manufactured woolen goods from
1887 to 1898:




;^I2, 100,000





j8, 800,000


57.9". 350

♦ Estimated.

Slight changes in the wool commerce of the world regulate themselves, for if
the demand falls off in one quarter it increases in another; but no provision can be
made against such wide variations as exist in the needs of a country as vast as the
United States, which dominates the situation.

Last year, America bought very little on this side of the Atlantic. The manu-

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facturing interests were seriously affected by this abstention, and if the supply of
fine wool had not been limited during the past few years, the price would inevitably
have lowered.

As to the future, no increase of production can be looked for in the colonies or
in La Plata, next year will show no increase over this. The merino type will be
scarce, and the price, though high, will probably remain firm; ihe cross types,
abundant both in stock and production, seem to offer the same guaranty of stability
at the low figure which they now command. It is probable that the market will
remain firm, and a certain brightening of the situation may be looked for in the
event of resumption of exportation to the United States. Aside from a slight in-
crease of trade during the last two weeks, the indications from that quarter are not
favorable. Stocks in bond diminish slowly, and the prices are lower than here.
There are chances, however, of a revival of trade. The United States bought quite
largely during the first half of 1897; since then orders have almost ceased, and it is
probable that orders will soon come from there, as the general situation in the
States, woo^ excepted, is very flourishing.

W. P. Atwell,
RouBAix, January /p, i8gg. Commercial Agent.


The statistics relating to imports of American cotton-seed oil for
1898, which have just been collated, together with the fact that an ex-
traordinary quantity of oil is now in transit for this market, has con-
tributed to the sharpness of the fight which has for some time been
waged between interests which oppose the introduction of American
oil at the existing rate of duty and those which desire the maintenance
of present conditions. A side chapter in the controversy is furnished
by the recent arrival of soap stock in considerable quantities, for
which it is not too much to assume that a steady demand will soon
be established. At first glance, the arrival of American crude soap
in Marseilles seems like the carrying of coals to Newcastle; but in-
quiry leads to the conviction that a trade in this commodity will
speedily assume satisfactory proportions. The soap stock which has
arrived is a product of cotton-seed oil caused by the refining process,
the thick and fatty parts of the crude oil being precipitated and so
treated as to be available for the purpose named.

The American cotton-seed-oil trade will be interested to know
that the arrivals of the oil from the United States during 1898" at
this port amounted to 51,003,097 kilograms (112,461,829 pounds),
or 287,739 barrels, as against 42,027,792 kilograms, or 237,898 bar-
rels, in 1897. The imports from England for 1898 amounted to
1,791,938 kilograms, and from all other countries 167,638 kilograms,
making the total importations 52,962,673 kilograms (116,761,388
pounds), or 9,790,548 pounds more than during 1897.

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The arrivals from the United States are catalogued as follows:
Edible oils, 120,541 barrels; for soap-manufacturing purposes,
'43»739 barrels. The total stock on hand of American oil on De-
cember 31 was 7,500,000 kilograms (16,537,500 pounds). The aver-
age price of the American oil during the year was 41. 12)^ francs per
100 kilograms ($7.94 per 220.46 pounds). The average price for
English oil was 40.25 francs ($7.78) per 100 kilograms.

Robert P. Skinner,

Marseilles, January 27, i8gg. Consul,


Mr. Mertens, in charge of the United States consular agency at
Grao, writes, under date of January 27, 1899:

The captain of one of the German Lloyd steamers, upon bringing
the **repatriados" to this port recently, expressed his surprise at the
Spaniards' fondness for beer, regretting that he had not had a larger
supply aboard during their journey, he, like many others, being un-
der the false impression that the Spaniards do not drink beer.

The consumption of beer in this country is yearly increasing, and
our American brewers, who can well hold their own against any beer
makers of the world, should try to secure this country for a market,
introducing the kind that will suit the Spanish taste. I would sug-
gest that for an easy introduction, a Spanish brand or label in the
Spanish language, with an appropriate sign to attract attention,
might be chosen.

Nothing can be said against the enterprising American way of
advertising the articles of home industry in different languages and
by illustrations the world over; but in countries like this it requires
a more imposing means to attract the attention of the public, and the
style which several European countries have successfully adopted
should be tried by our American manufacturers, viz, exhibitions on
a small scale, of sample deposits, either in a certain important com-
mercial place or on steamers touching from port to port and solicit-
ing orders on their exhibits.

I beg to observe that since losing its colonies, Spain is studying
seriously the question of raising both tobacco and cotton in this
country, the soil and climate in various parts being admirably
adapted for the purpose.

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I would suggest the propriety and even the necessity of repre-
sentation of our products at Nizhni Novgorod, Russia, on the occa-
sion of the annual fair which is held there during the months of
August and September. Within the last decade and a half, this fair
has assumed most important proportions. When I visited it some
twenty years ago, it was a general rendezvous for Russian and ori-
ental traders, and but few Europeans and no Americans went there
except as tourists. It is now an invaluable mart for the display of
all kinds of manufactures, especially for machinery. In a book en-
titled La Russie Industrielle, a French author who had spent some'
years in studying Russian markets advised his countrymen to send
specimens of all their manufactures to the great Nizhni fair. He
said that the Russians wanted to see samples of the machinery they
needed. They will not buy from descriptions or engravings.

French manufacturers know this, and they will be adequately
represented there at the coming fair. France already has a consular
agent at that point, who is credited by the Moniteur Officiel du
Commerce of January 26 with having materially advanced French
interests in that direction within a twelvemonth. The consular
agent laid especial stress upon the possible market for woolen and
cotton goods. He declared it a prime necessity to bring the manu-
facturer into direct contact with the buyer, and suggested the forma-
tion of a syndicate of manufacturers and dealers in woolens, cottons,
silks, etc., the object of which would be the exportation of French
goods into Russia.

The efforts of Russia toward industrial expansion, and the devel-
. opment of her immense mineral resources in the Ural Mountains
and in the country opened by the Trans-Siberian Railroad render
this field of enterprise especially attractive to American manufac-
turers. Last year, a proclamation of the Imperial Government
granted free trade in all articles entering Russia for the next ten
years to be used in the Ural and Siberian mines. Specimens of the
machinery included in this ukase will be freely exhibited at the
Nizhni fair this coming summer. Everything entering into the work
of building and equipping railroads or developing mines, as well as
agricultural implements, will receive the careful attention of people
who represent vast mineral and agricultural interests, now on the eve
of development.

The market being opened for manufactures in the vast region
referred to is more or less connected with the Russian advance in
No. 224 8.

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the northern portions of China. The Trans-Siberian Railroad, de-
flecting through Manchuria to Pekin, Tientsin, and Pechili Gulf on
the west, passing through Korea on the east, and sending a direct line
to Talienwan and Port Arthur, will intersect the rich mining district
of Shansi and establish connections with the Hoangho River. The
mining districts of Manchuria are already being colonized by Rus-
sians, and Russian steamers now ply on the rivers of that region.

In possession of a Chinese frontier of 4,000 miles, Russia is mak-
ing the best use of her opportunities to assimilate to her own people
the inhabitants of all northern China. In offering free trade for
machinery to be used in the mining industry, the Czar practically
invites the great manufacturing states to aid him in the conquest
of the populous East. The development of the mining interests of
the Russian and Chinese Empires, the building of railroads, and
the navigation of rivers, with the opening of the tea, silk, and rice
countries through which they run, not to speak of the new line of
railway through Afghanistan to the frontier of India, are enterprises
in the execution of which Russia needs the cooperation of the great
industrial nations of the world.

All agricultural implements, fertilizers, etc., which may be ex-
hibited at the Nizhni fair will be brought before every farmer in
Russia through the medium of the ** artels," or agricultural socie-
ties, which, under encouragement of the Government, have rapidly
multiplied in Russia during the last decade. They have representa-
tives who are skilled, by scientific study and practical experience, in
everything pertaining to farming, and whose business it is to look
after and make recommendations upon stock raising, fertilizers,
fodder, transportation, rates of freight, agricultural implements, etc.
Anything of use on a farm will find appreciative consideration at
the Nizhni fair.

The French consul at Nizhni lays especial stress upon the necessity
of bringing the manufacturer into direct contact with the Russian

John C. Covert,

Lyons, February ^, i8gg. ConsuL


The Kingdom of Portugal has had a treaty of commerce with
Russia for some four years. The first importation of petroleum
into this country from Russian firms took place about a month ago.
Russian exporters have heretofore been unable to manufacture tins
cheap enough for the transportation of the product, but it seems
that this difficulty has been overcome. The oil is now arriving in

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• tins of the same size and shape as those used by United States man-

Russian tank ships would have brought petroleum to this market
long ago had there been facilities for receiving it in bulk. A firm
here intends to build tanks to receive the oil direct from the vessels.

Our petroleum comes in barrels and tins, paying a duty of 60
reis per kilogram. Russian oil pays 52 reis per kilogram. Accord-
ing to the present exchange, 1,000 reis are equivalent to 72 cents,
which would make the duty on the American product 4.3 cents, and
on the Russian 3. 7 cents. Consumers say that the Russian oil equals
the American in quality. The imports of our petroleum through the
port of Lisbon in 1898 amounted Xo 6,547,420 kilograms (14,434,442
pounds), and through the port of Oporto, 10,912,365 kilograms
(24,057,400 pounds). Since the arrival of the Russian kerosene, the
holders of large quantities of American oil have reduced their prices
10 cents per tin, or 20 cents per case. The introduction of Russian
oil will seriously injure our trade in this important line.

J. H. Thieriot,

Lisbon, February 21, i8pp. Consul.


Under date of January 28, 1899, Consul Pitcairn sends from
Hamburg extracts from the annual report of the chamber of com-
merce which bear upon United States trade, as follows:


After the local police board, on January 30, had inhibited the importation of
fresh American apples, an imperial message was published on February 5* which
prohibited the importation from America of living plants and fresh plant waste, of
old plant packing material, and of fresh fruit and fruit waste, if upon examination
at the port of importation the presence of the San Jos6 scale was proven. This
message caused great consternation among parties concerned; happily, it had been
published at a period when the importations had practically ceased. Proper ar-
rangements for scientific investigations were made at once, and fruit taken from
different baskets of each separate shipment was examined. If only one of the in-
sects is found in one of the sample baskets, the whole shipment is refused. Now,
the custom-house inspectors have been instructed that all shipments after examina-
tion should be stamped ** Declaration Bureau, Hamburg," which, of course, is quite
a good measure, as it will be easy for anyone to delect at once whether the baskets
have been examined or not. We have sent a petition to our Government with the
request to instruct all custom-house authorities to admit in future all goods so
stamped without further inspection, thus avoiding all delays. It appears superflu-
ous, and it is a great inconvenience to everyone connected with the' trade, that,
notwithstanding the stamping of each package, a certificate of inspection is required.

♦Sec Consular Reports No. axo (March, 1898), p. 377.

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The next season again being in view, it was necessary to make arrangements
for better quay facilities, the examination of the fruit requiring much room. It
was decided that the examination and consequently the discharging of fruit cargoes
should be concentrated in one spot, and a fruit hall was built at the '* HansahQft,"
the construction being so much accelerated that it was ready at the beginning
of the season — in November.

Of course, the authorities had the unquestionable right, and it has also been
their duty, to prohibit the importation of fruit after the San Jos6 scale had once
been found; but it is a remarkable fact that, although the existence of the San Jos6
scale has been known for years in America, and in 1896 and 1897 in all parts of
the country in which fruit is cultivated laws were issued to lessen the pest, in
Germany nothing whatever was heard of it. It is strange that the consuls, who
are in the habit of sending lengthy reports upon all subjects of more or less inter-
est to the chamber of commerce, did not touch this matter at all. It is therefore
quite plain that the measures which were so suddenly taken came quite unex-
pectedly, and have <:aused material loss to a number of people. We must con-
fess that the situation does not appear to be so very dangerous; in fact, that the
rumors of danger have been much exaggerated. Many competent judges, experts
in the trade, have given as their opinion that the spreading of the insect by way of
the fruit itself is not at all likely, as the waste of fruit will very seldom come into
contact with the plant itself. Then this insect, living on trees, is by no means so
dangerous as the phylloxera, which exists under the earth and is thus at liberty
to multiply itself and to destroy the plants unobserved by the human eye. This
appears to be confirmed by the fact that, notwithstanding American fruit has been
imported for years on a large scale, careful examination of the plants has not
brought to light one single specimen of the much-feared insect. Under these cir-
cumstances, we question whether the rigid examination of the fruit shipments,
which is the cause of considerable delay and involves heavy expenses, is advisable.
Besides, the examination of samples offers no perfect and absolute safeguard.
* In March, the Prussian Minister of Finances published a message, ordering the
examination of all fruit- waste importations for the Rhine district for the use of
the jelly manufactories. Although fruit is imported duty free, the fruit waste
is taxed 4 marks per 100 kilograms (95 cents per 220.46 pounds), and therefore
the chambers of commerce of that district recommended the reduction of these
importations to the greatest possible extent.

Soon after, a far more important message was published, ordering the examina-
tion of all unpeeled dried American fruit, unless it be so dry that it can be easily
powdered by rubbing it between the hands. The "powdering-by-hands" clause
is meaningless, as fruit dried to such an extent does not exist. The regulation
could not be based upon the imperial message of February 5, which has reference
to fresh fruit only, and we fail to see that it should have any right to exist at all.
The danger that the San Jos6 scale might be brought to our fruit plantations by
the medium of dried fruits appears very small, and we have received information
from experts in California (where the fruit is dried) that it is very unlikely that scales
would ever be found on dried fruit. We have sent a petition to our Government
with the request to withdraw this regulation, and with regard to dried prunes the
regulation has been withdrawn.


In suspecting the foreign-meat importations, and especially the American meat,
and, further, in suspecting the American authorities, as frequently trichinae have
been found here in meats which are claimed to have been inspected before ship-
ping, we can only say that much injustice has been committed. The fact that a

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number of trichinae sicknesses have occurred after the consumption of pork which
has been properly inspected here, proves plainly that the accusations against the
American inspectors of butchers' meat are unjust, and only serves to confirm
the theory that ** trichinae inspections represent only problematic protection." An-
other fact (and we may call it a fact, no one as yet having succeeded in proving the
contrary) is that in Germany not one case of trichinae poisoning after the consump-
tion of American pork has occurred, and that after Germany again allowed the im-
portation of American pork, the cases of trichinae poisoning have not increased.
This also proves that the trichinae become harmless after the salting and other
preparation of the meat. As to ** canned meats," this method of preserving re-
quires such boiling as to render all morbid matter absolutely innocuous.


Last year's crop of agricultural products in the United States (grain and cotton)
has been very favorable, and business is fair. However, a constant decrease of im-
portations has been noticed, in consequence of the protective system of the Dingley
tariff. No doubt, this tariff is a great support to many articles made in America.
The reason for the strength of American industry is to be found in the fact of its
capacity for the production on a large scale of certain articles to which the German
facilities, with only a few exceptions, are far inferior. The European industry may
be prepared for the fact that in many articles which have hitherto been imported
from Europe, the United States will become a sharp competitor; particularly the

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 224-227 → online text (page 15 of 92)