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

Consular reports, Issues 224-227 online

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groen, 153 Nieuwe Haven; Poot Bros., Oppert.


Rotterdam, March 10, iSqq. Consul.

•This report is in answer to inquiries by the National Association of Manufacturers, to whom Ad-
vance Sheets have been sent.

No. 225 5.

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In 1898, Liverpool led all other foreign ports in the world in clear-
ances for the United States, the number being 1,009. In addition,
there were 14 clearances through the American consulate at Liver-
pool for ports that had recently been transferred from the juris-
diction of Spain to that of the United States. Of all these 1,023
clearances, only 3 of the ships carried the American flag — 2 of them
being sailing vessels. There were 275 of these clearances in ballast.
But few of the ships which cleared here for United States ports
took out full cargoes ; yet, the year's business for the shipping com-
panies was undoubtedly a paying one, speaking generally. It is
manifest, therefore, that most of the profitable voyages were those

The launching of the Oceanic in January restores Liverpool to its
former position of being the home port of the largest ship in the
world. It is generally understood in shipping circles here that be-
fore the Oceanic makes its first trip to New York, the keel will be laid
of a still larger ship — and, indeed, the probabilities are that before
long at least two vessels, one German and one British, both larger
than the Oceanic y will be under construction. The Belfast yard
which built the Oceanic has so many orders under way that no new
contracts will be taken for completion under five or six years. The
owners of the Oceanic do not make any claim to exceptional speed.
Their aim, they say, has been to secure increased comfort and in-
creased reliability as to time of arrival at port. There are those,
however, who predict a surprise as to speed. The fact is not gen-
erally known that the Oceanic was largely built of American steel
plates. The supplying of American plates to British shipbuilders
has become a permanent trade.

While the Mersey shows a continual increase in shipping, the in-
dustry of shipbuilding on the river has been steadily declining for
some years past, owing to the greater facilities on the Clyde, Wear,
Tyne, Tees, etc.

The total mercantile-marine shipbuilding output of 1898 for the
whole world is estimated at 1,893,000 tons; and Lloyd's returns
show that of this total output, 1,367,570 tons gross were launched in
the United Kingdom, the number of vessels being 761, of which only
17 were sailing vessels. In addition, last year there were 41 war
ships launched in the United Kingdom, of 191,555 tons displacement.
The total output of the United Kingdom for 1898 was therefore 802
vessels of 1,559,125 tons. Not counting war ships, there were at

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the close of the year 584 vessels of 1,401,087 tons gross under con-
struction in the United Kingdom. The corresponding figures at the
close of 1897 were 505 vessels of 1,013,319 tons. Lloyd's returns
give the addition of steam tonnage to British registry during 1898
as 1,111,768 tons gross; and of sailing tonnage, 29,053 tons; total,
1,140,821 tons. So large an addition to steam tonnage has not been
recorded in any previous year. About 90 per cent of the tonnage
added to the register consists of new vessels, net one of which was
built abroad. The total tonnage transferred to foreigners during
1898 was 588,508 tons, far greater than during 1895, 1896, or 1897,
when the transfers were exceptionally high. After allowing for
losses, dismantling, transfers, etc., the net increase of tonnage in
the British merchant marine during 1898 was 209,293 tons over 1897.
There was, however, a net decrease of 99 vessels, the explanation
being that, while there was an increase of 245 steamers, there was a
decrease of 344 sailing vessels. Lloyd's gives the following as the
vessels and tonnage on the mercantile-marine register of the United
Kingdom on the 31st of December, 1898, approximately:



Gross tons.








Of the tonnage classed by Lloyd's in 1898, 98.4 per cent was
built of steel and about 1.3 percent of iron. Compared with steam,
sailing tonnage decreased from 25 per cent of the total tonnage in
1891 to 2 per cent in 1898.

Large as was last year's business in shipbuilding in British yards,
this year's is expected to be larger. Of the launchings last year,
1,131,000 tons were under Lloyd's survey; while early in January
this year, there were 1,186,000 tons of vessels being constructed
under Lloyd's survey.

Of the new orders, a number of the largest ships will be for the
trans-Atlantic trade, with Liverpool as the British port. There are
also a number of ambitious projects for the British-Canadian trade.

It is noteworthy that for the first time in British Government
trade statistics, the value of ships built in the United Kingdom for
foreign registry is included in the monthly total export figures of
this year. The total increase of exports in January, 1899, over those
in the same month of 1898 was $5,418,900; and of this, $2,649,623
express the value of ships built in British yards for foreign registry
during January, 1 899. February's increase of exports was $8, 459, 107;
and of this, $996,455 was the value of British-built ships for foreign

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registry. It is explained that these valuations refer only to new
ships which have not been on the British register, and have been
actually exported during the month, and that they do not include
old ships transferred to foreign flags, or new ships built or sold to
foreigners during the month and not yet delivered.

In January this year, the Liverpool Daily Post stated that a com-
pany had been formed at Middlesbrough with a capital of $1,458,000
to make steel ship -plates by a new andvcheaper process than the
present method. The steel is to be made from Cleveland (north of
England) pig iron, instead of hematite.

In a recent review of the shipbuilding boom of 1898, the London
Times said :

One of the special causes that have contributed to bring about a large demand
for shipping during recent years has been the greater economy of tonnage, due
to the substitution of steel for iron. ♦ ♦ * Another source of economy has been
the increased use of larger plates. * * * Then, again, the use of steel has given
to the steel-ship owner a vessel of greater carrying capacity for the same Nominal
tonnage. * * * At the present time, more than 1,350,000 tons of steel shipping
are under construction, against less than g.ooo tons in iron; but there are still many
iron ships in our merchant navy, and the amount of new shipbuilding is likely to
be heavy until they have been wholly displaced, and until the most modern engines
and boilers have superseded the more wasteful systems of an earlier date.

The Times then goes on to say :

The extraordinary boom in our shipbuilding industry has caused a condition of
affairs in relation to all our great mechanical industries that is almost without par-
allel. That shipbuilders themselves are full of work may be taken for granted,
since they have nearly, if not quite, 500,000 tons more of actual business on their
books than they have ever had before. But this large volume of orders does not
mean activity in our shipyards alone. It involves a corresponding amount of
pressure on marine and mechanical engineers, electrical contractors and engineers,
iron and steel manufacturers, and the makers of the hundred and one different
articles of greater or less importance that go to make up the equipment of the
average ship. The value of the work which our mercantile shipbuilding industry
alone has furnished this year to the engineering industries generally, including
electrical engineers, will certainly not be less than five and a half millions sterling,
while the current value of the orders placed with our iron and steel manufacturers
from the same source is likely to be at least five millions. The total value of the
mercantile shipbuilding completed during the year 1898 is likely to be quite twenty
millions sterling, and the value of the shipbuilding for purposes of war on hand at
the present moment for British and other navies, including guns and other equip-
ment, will probably exceed twenty millions more. All this means a pressure on
our great mechanical industries from home demands that has led to the enforced
rejection of much foreign work and, to that extent, has been unfortunate as regards
our export trade.

These remarks of the Times are in line with an argument being
now generally advanced in England, that all comparisons as to the
condition of trade here should take into account the enormous ship-
ping and shipbuilding interests of the country. Unquestionably,

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one reason why the British people are not so much exercised over
the decrease in total exportations as might be naturally assumed
is the fact of the great prosperity of their shipbuilding trade. If it
had not been for the prolonged strike of the engineers (machinists),
the turn-out of the British shipyards last year would have been much
greater than it was.

British shipowners and shipbuilders confessedly view with some
alarm the ever-increasing competition of Germany, and some con-
cern is also expressed as to the conceded coming competition with
the United States. Competition among the British steam owners
themselves is also getting keener all the time. Although freight
rates are not as high as they formerly were, yet, owing to the much
larger dead weight which steamers can carry and the decreased cost
of building, there is still profit to British shipowners in carrying the
world's commerce. Some shipowners say, however, that the cost of
building was much greater in 1898 than in 1897. According to Lord
Inverclyde, president of the Cunard Company and of the chamber
of shipping of the United Kingdom, the gross earnings of steamers
were formerly J7 2. 99 per ton; now, they are about $58.39 per ton.
He also says that in 1898, the cost of cargo steamers was between
$29.19 and $34.06 per ton of dead weight carried.

The subjects of special interest in connection with the British
mercantile marine are now being widely discussed. The first is the
displacement of British seamen on British ships by aliens, and the
second is that of Government encouragement to the carrying of
boys who shall undertake to qualify themselves for the royal navy

It is generally conceded that, next to seamen of the United
States, British seamen get higher wages and better fare and more
comfortable conditions of employment than do seamen of any other
country. It naturally follows that alien seamen, as a rule, have a
liking for service on British ships. Many shipowners complain of
certain characteristics of British seamen, although there is a proud
admission of the skillful and heroic conduct of British seamen in
emergencies. There is undoubtedly an increasing number of advo-
cates of Government action in this matter — that is, of the adoption
of a policy which would make it to the financial interest of British
shipowners to employ British seamen, and particularly British mas-
ters and officers.

As to the second subject of discussion, there is a universal feeling
on the part of shipowners that the encouragement offered by the
Government for the employment of boys for the naval reserve is
utterly inadequate. This encouragement is in the form of an abate-
ment of one-fifth of the light dues, on certain terms, to those ships

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which carry boys, who undertake to qualify themselves for the royal
navy reserve. A short time ago, Lord Inverclyde, speaking as presi-
dent of the chamber of shipping of the United Kingdom, said that this
provision was not only inadequate, but was ** absurd," and ** likely
to prove a dead letter." It is said that this abatement of light dues
would only amount to about $5 per annum for each boy, while it
would cost from $80 to $100 a year to keep each boy. Liverpool
shipowners generally express their willingness to enter into some
scheme with the Government, if more liberal terms be offered, under
which boys will be taken and trained to seamanship with the ulti-
mate object of their being navy-reserve men; and one of the largest
firms in the Kingdom (Messrs. Elder, Dempster & Co.) has indeed,
on its own initiative, formulated a plan, independent of any assist-
ance from the Government, for taking several hundred of such boys.
It appears from an explanatory statement made in Parliament
that the main object of the Government in formulating this scheme
is to secure an increased supply of British seamen for the mercantile
marine. The scale and regulations made under this act were issued
on March 14 by the Admiralty and Board of Trade. They will come
into effect April i and continue in force until March 31, 1905, and
no longer, unless Parliament otherwise enact. The following state-
ment of the scale and regulations and provisions of the section of
the act is from the London Standard of March 15:

It is provided that an allowance equal to 20 per cent of the light dues paid in
any one year in respect of any one vessel will be granted at the end of each finan-
cial year (during which the vessel must have been not less than nine months with
articles of agreement running) to the then owner of that vessel, provided it carries
on each voyage "boy sailors," according to the following scale: Under 500 tons
net, I boy; 500 and under 1,000 tons net, 2 boys; 1,000 and under 2,000 tons net, 3
boys; and an additional boy for every 1,000 tons or portion of 1,000 tons net. Any
vessel, no matter what its tonnage, carrying 6 boy sailors shall be entitled to the
maximum allowance of 20 per cent of the light dues paid. In order that the allow-
ance may be obtained, each boy sailor must be a British subject (not being a Las-
car), able to speak and understand English; be enrolled in a special class of the
naval reserve, to be called the "probationer" class, and undertake to join the "sea-
man" class reserve under the reserve volunteer force act, 1859, as soon as qualified.
The boy must be over 15 and under 18 years of age at the time of first enrollment,
and be a deck hand. Boys enrolled in this special class will not be liable to be
"called out." They will not be called upon to attend drill until they have passed
into the seaman-class reserve, and will not be paid retainers or receive uniform.
Probationers will be eligible for advancement to the seaman class when they reach
the age of i8 years, provided they have followed a seafaring life for two years. The
advantages offered are as follows: (i) Each man enrolled in the seaman class will
receive £3 5s. ($15.82) a year as a retainer, two suits of clothes during his five
years* engagement, and whilst on drill 2s. gd. (67 cents) a day, drill pay, and allow-
ances. As soon as he has performed twenty-eight days* drill, he will, if favorably
reported upon, be allowed to commence six months* naval training, upon the satis-
factory completion of which he will be advanced to the "qualified-seaman" class at

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the age of 20, provided he has passed the necessary examinations. He will then
receive ;^6(j29.2o) a year as a retainer, a suit of clothes every five years, and whilst
on drill 3s. id. (75 cents) a day, drill pay, and allowances. He will also, provided
he undergoes a further period of six months* naval training, and subject to the due
performance of his duties as a member of the reserve, be granted a deferred pen-
sion certificate on completing his last term of drill, which will entitle him to a
pension of ;^I2 ($58.40) a year at the age of 60, or previously if incapacitated. No
allowance will be granted in respect of any boy sailor over 19 years of age, or for a
longer period than three years from, the date of the first enrollment of such boy

There are four training ships in the Mersey opposite Liverpool —
three for boys (two of them being reformatory), to train them as
seamen for the mercantile marine, and one, the Conway^ for gentle-
men's sons, to qualify them to be officers in the same service.

There is now in progress in several British law courts (including
Liverpool) a very interesting question as to supplying seamen to for-
eign ships. Until quite recently, foreign ships were held to be exempt
from the British merchant shipping act of 1894, which provided that
every person who engaged or supplied a seaman or apprentice to be
entered on board of any ship in the United Kingdom must be licensed
to do so by the Government Board of Trade, or that it must be
done by the owner, master, or mate of the ship, or the owner's
servant and representative. Nothing is said in the act as to the na-
tionality of the ship or the seamen. The practice at Liverpool and
other ports of Great Britain has been for crews to be engaged by
shipping masters of the same nationality as the ship, without refer-
ence to the conditions above referred to in the merchant shipping
act. Thus, when a ship flying the American flag came to Liverpool,
its outward crew was engaged by a shipping master claiming to be
an American citizen, but who was not licensed by the Government
Board of Trade. Some months ago, the Board of Trade brought
action against a Norwegian shipping master at Liverpool on the
grounds stated. The defense was that the merchant shipping act
only applied to British vessels. The local court decided against the
shipping master, holding that the act applied to all ships, irrespec-
tive of nationality, that cleared from British ports. An appeal was
taken, but was dismissed on a technicality. At about the same time, a
similar case came before the judiciary appeal court of Edinburgh. In
this case, however, judgment had been given in the lower court in
favor of the shipping master, but the judiciary appeal court reversed
the decision and held, as did the Liverpool court, that the merchant
shipping act applied to all vessels, irrespective of nationality, clearing
from a British port. This position is now accepted generally as the
correct interpretation of the law, and I believe it meets with approval
as operating against the evils of ** crimping."

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The following are the British-reserve merchant cruisers and the
subsidies they receive from the British Government:

Company and vessel.

Cunard Line:

Campania ,

Lucania ,

Peninsular and Oriental Comr>any:





White Star Line:

Teutonic ,

Majestic ,

Canadian Pacific Company:

Empress of India

Empress of China

Empress of Japan

TouU ,



Liverpool, March 21^ iSpg.

James Boyle,



Under date of March 22, 1899, Consul Marshal Halstead, of
Birmingham, says:

Mr. Ritchie, the president of the Board of Trade, in his speech
at the dinner in London of the Associated Chambers of Commerce
on March 15, announced the purpose of establishing a commercial
department in Great Britain. He said that in many ways govern-
ments were moving in commercial matters in which not very long
ago they never attempted to move at all, and that in this year's Gov-
ernment estimates there was a sum of money for the establishment,
under the auspices of the Board of Trade, of a new Government
department, in which would be collected and focused all the informa-
tion which now exists in the various departments, so that any com-
mercial man may be able to go to the office and obtain intelligence
in a business-like way.

This department is to be conducted by a committee which will be drawn from
the India Office, the Foreign Office, and the Colonial Office, and will have added
to it certain commercial men. In addition to that, there will be another sura of
;f2,ooo ($9,733) upon the Foreign Office estimate for obtaining, by means of specially
appointed persons, special commercial intelligence abroad. We also intend to
publish the Board of Trade Journal weekly instead of monthly.

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Mr. Halstead also sends the following clipping from Industries
and Iron in its edition of March 17:

We are rejoiced to see that at last a reform, whose pressing necessity we have
repeatedly urged in these columns, may be regarded as a fait accompli. We are
now authoritively informed that the preparation and publication of the consular
reports will pass from the control of the Foreign Office to a specially created depart-
ment of the Board of Trade. We have repeatedly suggested this and given our
reasons in detail for the desirability of the change. The Government has evidently
the intention of copying to the fullest degree — and perhaps of improving on, if that
be possible — the example set this country by the United States. Accepting this as
the fact, there are one or two considerations connected with consular reports which
we would desire to emphasize. They should be issued free to the chief organs
of the general and technical press. We are, of course, far from suggesting that
financial considerations have anything to do with the .matter so far as the press is
concerned. But it is quite evident that the matter comprised in the reports is of
general importance, and it should therefore be given the widest publicity possible.
Therefore, the trouble of sending and paying for the reports as they appear should be
obviated. Their length and the frequency of their publication should be carefully
apportioned in a relative degree to the interests involved. There is no doubt that
a part of them should be telegraphic, and be published day by day. Lastly, the
preparation of the reports should be placed in the hands of competent men of the
highest commercial training and experience, and should be edited before publica-
cation by someone qualified to criticise them and capable of guiding and instruct-
ing their authors. We do not profess ourselves as exactly sanguine as to the entire
accomplishment of the programme indicated by these premises; but if we get some-
thing even approximating to it, we shall have cause for gratitude.

The consul adds:

The best is not good enough for the United States, and in that
sense the agitation at home for an improvement of our consular serv-
ice is useful ; but it is only fair that the standing of the service abroad
should be understood and appreciated. The above editorial from an
important British trade paper shows that there has been a long-time
agitation here for consular reform, and that the United States serv-
ice is the model.

Under date of March 24, Mr. Halstead sends a clipping from the
London Times of even date showing the important work being done
by the Austrian Export Association, as follows:


[From our own correspondent.]

Vienna, March 2j.
The annual report of the Austrian Export Association, which has just been issued,
manifests a satisfaction with the commercial policy of the Government which has
hitherto been conspicuous by its absence among the trading classes of this country.
The recent action of the Ministry of Commerce for the promotion of Austrian ex-
port trade, by the establishment of subsidized agencies abroad, is greeted with
warm appreciation. It is regarded as a solution of the problem of securing a footing
for the Austrian exporter in foreign countries. The report also gives particulars

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of commercial missions dispatched by the association last year to Mexico, Uskub,
Durban, Cape Town, and Perth, in western Australia, and announces the establish-
ment, a short time hence, of an agency at Irkutsk, in Siberia. Another feature of
this society's activity during the past year was an inquiry conducted privately
among the representatives of all branches of Austrian industry respecting the possi-
ble consequences of a failure to renew the Ausgleich with Hungary. The result of
the investigation, which has not been made public, has been submitted to the

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 224-227 → online text (page 33 of 92)