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

Consular reports, Issues 224-227 online

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per cent of $S per 100 kilograms washers.

The consumption of pig iron is not very large. It comes here only as ballast,
paying no freight.

Of bar iron, we used to sell before the revolution about 1,000 piculs (137,500
pounds) per month. The best-known quality is Govan. To ascertain the whole
consumption in these islands is impossible, as there exist no statistics. The present
market price for the assortment described below is about $7.75 per picul (137^
pounds), less 5 per cent cash discount.

Of more importance is galvanized iron. The unsatisfactory results of tilings
when subjected to earthquakes have made it a general rule to cover the houses
with galvanized iron. The present market price is $9.50 per quintal (100 pounds),
less 5 per cent cash discount. On each sheet the mark is to be painted. Our special
mark, which no other house can carry, is six crowns painted in black in groups of
three, one group directly below the other. The selling prices of the different marks
vary between i2)4 to 50 cents per quintal, according to mark, which always repre-
sents a certain quality.

The packing of the article is very important, because one has to allow a con-
siderable rebate for goods stained by sea water, etc.

Nearly all the steel imported into this country comes in cases 3 feet long and
weighing 68, 70, or 72 catties, according to the wish of the buyer. One catty is
lyi English pounds. These square sticks, of something like 3-feet length, are of
different thickness, and the usual assortment is 1,200 cases of seven-eighths of an
inch, and 800 cases of three-fourths of an inch. The selling price per picul of 137^
English pounds is now $9.62)^. less 5 per cent cash discount. People here do not
like soft steel, as it does not bend, but breaks if struck with a hard object.

Other metal articles of large consumption are tin-plate washers, wire nails,
wire rope, zinc sheathing, yellow metal, etc.

We are ready to give any details on application.

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Leni^h, 4I meters (14.8 feet)—

2 by 3 inches.

a by i inches.

ij by I inches.

xj by § inches

i| by i inches

i^ by I inches ,

1^ by i inches

I J by I inches

I by i inches.

I by j inches.

Length, 3M meters (11.5 feet)—

X by J inched

J by I inch

t by I inch

I by iV inch

i by tk inch

I by J inch


Round (length, 4^ meters):

1} inches.

i^ inches.

li inches.

1 inch

I inch



Length, 4} meters—

3| inches

li inches

Length, 3J meters—

I inch



Half round (length, 34 meters):

i inch

} inch


Cval (length, 34 meters):

I inch

I inch


* The Philippine picul is equal to 137^ pounds.













4, "5
















4, "5






4, "5




4, "5





4, "5





4, "5
4, "5

4. "5



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The trade of Formosa has made great progress during the last
few years, and the United States has a larger share than any other
nation, with the exception of the mother country, China. In 1896,
the total United States trade with the island amounted to 7,717,789
Japanese yen ($3,858,897 in United States currency); and in 1897,
out of a total foreign trade (excluding China) of about 11,000,000
yen ($5,500,000), that portion falling to the United States amounted
to 6,517,658 yen ($3,258,829). The decrease in 1897 from the pre-
ceding year was due to an unfavorable tea season. Of these amounts,
the export trade forms by far the greater portion; still, the import of
American goods, compared with that of other nations, is considerable.

In 1894, the last year of the Chinese administration, our import
trade amounted to about 165,000 yen ($82,500). With the island
under Japanese control, our imports reached in 1896 the value of
594,3^9 yen ($297,194) and in 1897, 811,660 yen ($405,330)-

Unfortunately, no regular statistics are kept by the Japanese
Government of goods arriving at the port of Kelung from the -main-
land, Japan, although that port has much shipping. Some American
goods can be found in nearly all the numerous Japanese shops which
have sprung up in the various cities of the island; but nearly all
their stock arrives from Japan via Kelung, and this, together with
American goods arriving from Hongkong, which- are found in the
customs statistics as Hongkong exports, renders it impossible to
state figures as to the actual consumption of American products in
the island. However, it is a safe estimate to place the total value
of the same at over 1,000,000 yen ($500,000).

The principal imports from the United States are: Petroleum,
valued at 529,080 yen ($264,540) ; flour, valued at 211,305 yen ($105,-
652); and ginseng, valued at 51,437 yen ($25,718). Other items ap-
pearing in the customs statistics are condensed milk, confectionery
(biscuits^ cakes, etc), shrimps, clocks, brass ware, blankets, piece
goods, tobacco, cement, furniture, lamps, porcelain, and earthenware.

Among these items we find a decrease, as compared with the
year 1896, in condensed milk, flour, clocks, and tobacco. The good
quality of the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company's product,
which is sold on this market for 25 sen (12^ cents in United States
gold), has gradually driven all other brands out, and, although the
Eagle brand is superior, the market price of the same — 40 sen, or
20 cents in United States gold — is almost prohibitory.

♦This report was made in reply to inquiries by the director of the Philadelphia Museums, to
whom Advance Sheets have been sent.

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Two brands of American unsweetened, so-called evaporated cream
have been imported into the island and found much favor among a
very limited number of consumers — foreigners and Japanese ; but the
Chinese and Japanese generally desire the sweetened milk, as more
economical and possessed of better keeping qualities. If a brand of
American condensed milk fully equal to the Anglo-Swiss could be
placed on the market at a similar price, it would in time doubtless
recover much of the trade which the United States once possessed
in this commodity. The consumption of condensed milk in the
island in 1897 reached some 23,000 dozen cans, valued at about
50,000 yen ($25,000). Every year shows a rapid growth in the use
of this commodity.

The decrease in flour is very slight, and due perhaps to the with-
drawal of a considerable portion of the military forces after the oc-
cupation of the island. The demand is assuming larger proportions
year by year, and with the arrival of increasing numbers of Japanese
and the greater prosperity of the Chinese laboring classes, this im-
port is quite likely to reach more important dimensions. The total
import of American flour for 1897 amounted to 5,526,150 pounds,
valued at 217,651 yen (15108,825).

The decrease in American clocks is not a decrease in consump-
tion, but is due rather to the transfer of the trade to Japan. The
numerous Japanese merchants have taken the sale out of the hands
of the Chinese and are now importing their supplies from Japan via
Keluhg, no record of their arrival being kept by the customs. Ameri-
can clocks and watches can be found among the stock of all dealers
in such wares. The demand is for the cheapest class of these goods.

Tobacco, like milk, is rapidly falling into the hands of our com-
petitors, but in this case it is due almost entirely to the method of

The damp atmosphere of Formosa, like that of many other East-
ern countries, is such that tobacco rapidly spoils if it is not put up
in hermetically sealed tins. American cigarettes, of which there was
at one time a considerable consumption, arrive in little pasteboard
packets, the cigarettes protected by a wrapper of tin foil ; and in a very
short time — a matter of a few weeks only — they turn green and moldy
and are practically worthless. Wills & Co. , an English firm, pack their
cigarettes, which are advertised as being made of American tobacco,
in round tin cases holding fifty. By a clever arrangement, a small
blade can be brought into position on the outer cover, and a "simple
twist of the wrist" cuts a circular hole in the tin, and the contents
of the package are before you as fresh and fragrant as the day they
left the factory. The total import of foreign tobacco, excluding
cigars, is valued at 111,432 yen ($55,718), of which the United States
has but 1,146 yen ($573)-

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Tobacco is not the only American product lost to this market on
account of inferior packing. The writer has seen United States oat-
meal, buckwheat, raisins, cakes, biscuits, and other products of a
like perishable nature arrive from the United States packed in the
most flimsy, light pasteboard boxes and paper bags, intended, as at
home, to be placed on the retailers* shelves; but after being, during
a few weeks, subjected to the damp and to the attacks of insects, so
numerous in the East, the package and contents have so deteriorated
that the article is no longer salable. English oatmeal, cakes, and
biscuits always come packed in air-tight tin boxes, and raisins
and salt in glass. In fact, provisions from England of almost every
kind arrive packed in either tin or glass, and, while the cost of the
same may exceed that of goods packed as American provisions gen-
erally are, it is an expense that the Eastern importers will gladly

Furthermore, where cans are used by the English, the whole
package has been invariably treated to a coat of varnish, and some-
times paint. The result is the package always looks well, even after
it has been on the shelves for months. Our canned goods have
paper labels roughly pasted on, and, while at first very attractive in
appearance, they soon become moldy and dirty, the wrappers loos-
ened, and the tins covered with rust. I have seen American canned
goods in Formosa that I knew had not been on the shelves for more
than a month, yet had the appearance of shop-worn goods, years
in age.

Two consignments of American bicycles have been received, and
they were found very satisfactory, with the exception that the order,
which called for a complete outfit — bell, lamp, brake, pump, etc.,
as these articles are not to be obtained here — was not filled, the ma-
chines being sent in one case without the bell and brake and in the
other without pumps for inflating the tires. The result is that
the latter machines must remain on the dealer's hands, losing in this
climate much of their brightness, during the three months necessary
to obtain the pumps from New York. In the first instance, the ex-
porter wrote that the machines were not equipped with a brake
because this was of no practical use and was sure to injure the tire.

The result was that two customers, for whom machines had been
specially ordered, refused to accept them ; and the native dealer,
who had for the first time received a shipment from America, while
able to dispose of the whole consignment, was considerably annoyed.
The United States, so far as I can ascertain, is the only country
where the brake is not generally used, and, at all events, for the
East a bicycle is considered incomplete if it does not possess this

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The Formosan Government is at present endeavoring to secure
10,000,000 yen ($5,000,000) for harbor works at Kelung, 30,000,000
yen ($15,000,000) for a railway through the island,* and 20,000,-
000 yen ($10,000,000) for other public improvements. While the
whole amount desired may not be obtained, it is quite likely that
sufficient funds will be forthcoming to commence work on Kelung
Harbor and on the railway. There will be dredgers, rails, locomo-
tives, etc., to be purchased, and it is hoped that we may have a
share in furnishing them. It is necessary to add here that large
orders, such as for waterworks material and railway and harbor ma-
chinery, are generally given out in Tokyo, Japan, and not in For-
mosa, although it is well to have representatives here also.

In the ordinary lines of trade, excluding those in which the
United States already has a share, the following imports are the most
important from foreign nations, and it may be possible for the
United States to obtain a hold in some of them: Leather (most of
the Japanese use foreign style boots and shoes), buttons, glassware,
nails, iron piping, ironware, iron bars, lead, cotton yarns, cotton
prints, raw cotton, cotton thread, white shirtings, cotton satins, last-
ings, gray shirtings, dyed shirtings, woolen yarns, Spanish stripes,
long ells, camlet, woolen cloths, woolen edgings, thread and twine,
beer, cement, lumber, umbrellas, rubber goods, toilet articles, nov-
elties, etc.

Inquiries are frequently made for information regarding American
manufactures, and I would suggest that catalogues and price lists
describing the same be sent to this consulate, where they can be
placed on file and exhibited to interested parties calling. I would
also suggest that a full line of samples of piece goods, with a de-
scription of quality, size, weight, cost, etc., be sent attached to each

Formosa is an out-of-the-way place, and but little of the enter-
prise exhibited by foreign firms in China in introducing new goods
is to be observed here. The class of piece goods arriving now is not
very different from that which came into the island twenty-five
years ago, and, while China has taken increasing quantities of Amer-
ican fabrics year by year, scarcely any have reached Formosa. The
piece goods arriving from Europe amount to over $500,000 a year in
value, while from the United States the import is practically nil —
a few yards of T cloth and a few hundred pair of blankets valued at
$1,000. I will give every assistance to American firms consistent
with official regulations in building up our trade in the island.

James W. Davidson,

Tamsui, January jo ^ i8gg. Consul.

♦see Consular Rei-orts No. 224 (May, 1899), p. 67.

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The following is a copy of a letter by Consul Davidson, of
Tamsui, dated March 13, 1899, to the Philadelphia Commercial

A few days ago, the Imperial Japanese Diet passed the loan bill
which gives to Formosa the sum of 35,000,000 yen ($17,500,000 in
United States gold) to be spent in public improvements in the
island. This will undoubtedly result in an increased import trade,
and it is to be hoped our manufacturers will profit by it. While
the larger proportion of the above sum will be expended in railway
and harbor work, trade in all lines will be stimulated, and a consid-
erable commercial boom is to be expected during the period of con-

A very important experiment is now being made, the success of
which depends much upon assistance given by American manufac-
turers. I refer to the establishment in this city (Tamsui) of a general
supply house, something entirely new to Formosa. Commodious
quarters have been obtained, and a large sample room arranged, in
which will be placed on exhibition manufactured goods of all kinds.
The manager, Mr. H. W. S. Edmunds, is an experienced merchant from
Japan, and he informs me it is his intention to push, almost wholly,
the sale of American goods. He is desirous of entering into com-
munication with American manufacturers, and has handed me the
inclosed list of goods in which he thinks something may be done.
He solicits from manufacturers catalogues and commercial litera-
ture, with prices and best discounts and other information necessary
for effecting sales, and would like catalogues in duplicate wherever
possible. He is particularly desirous of obtaining samples, and
requests that same may be sent him wherever practicable. The
sample room will, he believes, lead to more satisfactory results than
any other method of business which he could adopt; and with this, I
agree wholly. Of course, there are some lines in which samples are
out of the question. For such, he desires photographs or other pic-
torial representation. The Edmunds establishment will be the only
house working on this basis in the island, and, as both Japanese and
Chinese like to see style of goods before ordering, I have great con-
fidence in its ultimate success.

As to the advantage of manufacturers sending commercial liter-
ature to this consulate, I might state that catalogues which are
loaned to inquirers frequently lead to sales. Requests for catalogues

♦ Advance Sheets have been sent the museum.

No. 225 7.

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and information regarding certain American manufactures are often
made, and, while they are mostly for single articles of machinery of
no great value, still these are of importance in introducing to the
island a large variety of goods which may lead to more profitable
business later.


(i) Cheap paints of all kinds.

(2) Good, cheap, durable lumber, suited for general building purposes, which
will resist the damp and white ant.

(3) Railway and bridge timbers and other railway and bridge material.

(4) Light and portable railways (Decauville) and railway and bridge supplies of
all kinds.

(5) Building material and builders' hardware.

(6) Cheap ceiling and roofing material.

(7) Cheap dredging machinery and river-flushing machinery.

(8) Cheap drain and ditch machinery; also road-making machinery.

(9) Water pipes and water-pipe fittings.

(10) Sheet, bar, and angle iron.

(11) Best tool steel.

(12) Malleable iron and steel castings.

(13) Galvanized wire and wire rope.

(14) Galvanized iron.

(15) Hoisting engines and hoisting and hauling devices.

(16) Pipe threading and cutting machines.

(17) Insulated wires and cables.

(18) Water wheels, motors, turbines, etc.

(19) Electrical machinery, apparatus, and supplies.

(20) Rope, binder twine, etc.

(21) Files, axes, hammers, shovels, spades, scoops, etc.

(22) Leather belting, cheap cement, glue, etc.

(23) Coal-mining, coal-handling, and gold-washing machinery.

(24) Derricks, cranes, and other unloading machinery.

(25) Well-boring and prospecting machinery,

(26) Cement machinery.

(27) Salt machinery; also sulphur machinery.

(28) Mining machinery.

(29) Clay-working and brick machinery.

(30) Sugar machinery, including mill, refinery, and distillery, and small mills
worked by animal power, with details regarding a small plant capable of producing
about 10 tons of raw sugar per day; also complete outfit for refining about the
same quantity per day.

(31) Cheap gang mill, vertical preferred, to cut boards i inch thick out of tim-
bers 12 inches in diameter; also larger mills.

(32) Light portable sawmills and wood-working machinery generally.

(33) Machinery for the manufacture of jute and for making jute fiber.

(34) Machinery for the manufacture of coir fiber and other fibers, particularly
banana and pineapple.

(35) Cotton and woolen machinery.

(36) Rubber-making machinery.

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(37) Celluloid machinery and camphor-refining machinery.

(38) Machinery for the manufacture of seed oil, cocoanut oil, etc.

(39) Machinery for the utilization of the sunflower plant, both seed and pith.

(40) Banana-flour machinery.

(41) Cofifee and tapioca machinery.

(42) Arrowroot machinery and corn-flour machinery.

(43) Rice-hulling and rice-polishing machinery.

(44) Match-making machinery (automatic preferred).

(45) Paper machinery.

(46) Cheap printing machinery.

(47) Steam boilers, engines, pumps, heaters, and steam appliances of all kinds.

(48) Hot-air and other self-running pumps.

(49) Kerosene engines and other cheap power, including small kerosene motors
for narrow-gauge railways (about 2 horsepower).

(50) Small kerosene launches for river use.

(51) Cheap clocks, watches, jewelry, bicycles, tricycles, sewing machines, etc.

(52) Cheap door bolts, hinges, locks, etc. ; also cheap cabinet locks and hinges.

(53) Cheap lamps for wall and table and for street lighting.

(54) Cheap water heaters, using oil, wood, or charcoal for fuel.

(55) Sanitary appliances of all kinds, especially those suited for tropical climates.

(56) Ready-made buildings adapted to the Tropics.

(57) Cheap wooden furniture, such as can be shipped ** knocked down;" also
furniture-making machinery.

(58) Cheap crockery and glassware.

(59) Rubber boots, rubber suits, and miscellaneous rubber goods.

(60) Cheap boots and shoes; must be good and strong.

(61) Woolen hose, cotton hose, etc.

(62) Dyewood extracts and dyes in general.

(63) Sugar, confectionery, canned fruits, and preserved goods generally.

(64) Photographic apparatus and supplies.

(65) Drugs, medicines, and proprietary articles.

(66) Gasoline, acetylene, and other lighting apparatus.

(67) Best lubricating oils.

(68) Mechanics' tools, farming implements, etc.

Also notions, sundries, and labor-saving devices of all kinds.

H. W. S. Edmunds,
TwO'tU'tiay Tamsui^ Formosa.


The tea season of 1898 will be written down in Formosa commer-
cial history as a memorable one. The United States, as the chief
purchaser of Formosa Oolong, is an interested party, and this is my
excuse for so voluminous a report. Besides a review of the season
and a description of the manufacture of Pouchong tea, I have ap-
pended statistics on the general commerce in the island and the share
each foreign nation has in the same, with the special object of illus-
trating the important part tea plays in the island's trade.

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The question of a duty of lo cents a pound arising during the
spring of 1897, created during that period an exciting market, from
which all did not escape unscathed; but the season of 1898, just
ended, was even more unsatisfactory and will long be remembered as
most depressing. This was largely due to the tax placed on tea in the
United States. It came at a time when considerable purchases had
been made for the home market, and, as the teas had to compete with a
large stock of old teas held in the United States, duty free, the losses
sustained by some merchants are said to have been very severe. Buy-
ing continued, however, in a small way until news reached the island
of sales of new tea in New York at prices below those ruling in For-
mosa. Trade then ceased for a time; but, regardless of this, the
prices remained firm, the Chinese showing no anxiety to dispose of
their teas at prices in accord with those existing in New York.
Later, several firms entered the market, doubtless confident that New
York prices would recover, and considerable purchases were made.
Up to the present, however, their hopes have not, I believe, been
realized, and there is at present an unsold stock of some 15,000 half
chests (600,000 pounds) in Amoy, which, when it does eventually
find its way to New York, will — as much of the tea that went before
it — unless some favorable change takes place during the winter or
the duty is withdrawn, result in considerable losses. Already, a
number of Chinese packing houses have closed their doors, and by
next spring it is quite likely that the local business will be in fewer
hands. Among the foreign houses, however, one firm with offices in
New York has secured commodious quarters and will engage in the
tea trade the coming season.

The Japanese authorities are showing some interest in the trade,
and an attempt has been made to organize all native tea men into
associations, with a view to general improvements in the method of
cultivation. It is hoped that their efforts will result satisfactorily.
There has been each season a marked deficiency in the better grades
of Oolong, as compared with the preceding year, owing, it is gen-
erally claimed by the natives, to unsuitable weather. The true

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 224-227 → online text (page 36 of 92)