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and ironmongery, while the exports consist of garden produce, fruit,
whale oil, hides, plants and seeds, and a little wool. The connec-
tion with the outside world is now much more satisfactory than
formerly, the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria having

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established a bimonthly steam service between Sydney and the New
Hebrides, Banks, and Santa Cruz groups of islands, calling at Lord
Howe and Norfolk islands both ways.

The population of the island on December 31 last for the two
communities was: Norfolk Island, 668; Melanesian Mission, 178;
total, 846.

In 1898 rain fell on one hundred and ninety-two days, gauging
68.94 inches; February most, with 11.76 inches; September least, 2
inches. The thermometer ranged from 56° to 79° — highest in Feb-
ruary, 79° ; lowest in August, 56**.

Isaac Robinson,

Norfolk Island, March 6, i8qq. Consular Agent,


I inclose translation of an article quoted in a local journal from
the Frankfurter Zeitung. In a previous report * I recited the terms
of a tentative contract between the Standard Oil Company and the
Dutch Moeara Enim Company, of Sumatra, by which an amalga-
mation of those two companies was arranged with a view to control-
ling the eastern markets. This contract, however, was rendered
null and void by the Dutch Minister of Colonies, who forbade it be-
ing put into effect on the ground that foreign enterprises were not
wanted in the Dutch colonies.

Now, however, the Moeara Enim Company has concluded a prac-
tically similar deal with a large Anglo-Russian oil syndicate. The
general opinion is that a division of territory is contemplated, and
that there will be no cutting of oil prices.

There is no doubt that in the constantly widening markets of Asia,
there will be room for several companies to make substantial profits,
supposing, of course, that too many new oil wells are not discovered
here in the meantime.

The importance of the inclosed article lies in the fact- that it was
printed in the Frankfurter Zeitung, which is one of the best informed
papers in the world on financial matters.

I give below statistics of petroleum imports for Java for the last
three years:




American. Russian. Sumatran. Total.






♦See "American petroleum in Java," Cunsui.ak Reports No. 2i4 0uly, 1898), p. 380.
t Of JO gallons each.

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It will be seen, then, that the importation of American and Rus-
sian oils has fallen off, while that of Sumatra oil has increased. The
total is also less.

The sales of local Java petroleum for 1898 were 1,476,412^ cases.
This was the best year known for this trade, and evidently one of the
causes of the decrease in importation of foreign oils.

The increased excise tax of $1 per hectoliter (26.417 gallons)
mentioned in my report of January 7 * bears on all oils alike. In
addition, American and Russian oils pay a customs duty of 10 cents
per hectoliter (26.417 gallons).

Sydney B. Everett,

Batavia, March p, i8gg. Consul.

[Translation of article clipped from the Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad of March 7, 1899.]

A correspondent writes from Rotterdam to the Frankfurter Zeitung:

The arrangement made a few weeks ago between the Moeara Enim Petroleum
Company, of Amsterdam, and the Shell Transport and Trading Company, of Lon-
don, has awakened widespread interest, on account of the great influence which
this combination can have on the limitation of the domination of the Standard Oil
Company in the eastern Asiatic markets. Until now, the petroleum trade east of
the Suez Canal, with the exception of one or two small concerns which supplied
Java, Assam, etc., has been exclusively in the hands of two groups — one the Stand-
ard Oil Company and the other the firm of Samuel & Co., of London, whose petro-
leum interests have now passed to the above-mentioned Shell Transport and
Trading Company.

Last year, it was supposed that the Royal (Dutch) Petroleum Company was
destined to make a third of the petroleum magnates of the East; but these expec-
tations were not fulfilled, since the old oil wells in Langkat and Deli are continually
giving less oil, and the borings which have been made on other territories have,
until now, shown very poor results.

According to report, the Sumatra-Palembang Petroleum Company, a dependent
company of the Royal, has lately bored some yielding oil wells; but the resulting
production will hardly cut much figure in the East.

The Moeara Enim Company can now sell its product in the most advantageous
manner possible, by means of the widespread organization of the Shell Company
in eastern Asia. The Shell Company, in which (with the exception of the London
and Japan firm of Samuel & Co.) the largest Anglo-Chinese and British Indian
firms have a share (Grahams & Co., Ker Bolton & Co., Boustead & Co., Best & Co.,
Arnhold Karbay &Co., A. Bunge & Co., controlling /"i, 800, 000 of capital), possesses
a large fleet of tank steamers, petroleum storehouses in all the principal harbors of
China and Japan, its own factories for the making of cases, tins, kettles, etc. — in
short, it has in the last ten years effected such an organization that, in spite of the
high freight rates from Batum and the great cost of going through the Suez Canal,
it has contrived to place the Russian oil in eastern Asia on an even footing in the
competition with the American oil.

•This appears clearly from the figures of imports of petroleum, in the above-
mentioned lands, which amounted in 1896 and 1897 to 26,800,000 and 28,600,000

♦See Consular Rhports No. 224 (May, 1899), p. 68.

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cases, of which the Russian oil had a share of 12,500,000 and 12,600,000 cases,
while the Standard Oil imported 14,300,000 and 16,000,000 cases. These figures
indicate, at the same time, the growing needs of those countries, which, on account
of the opening of China, will be increased in a still greater degree. That under
such circumstances the strengthening of the Russian combination with the Moeara
Enim Company is of exceptional importance is very evident, and explains why
this latter company was able to close the contract on such advantageous terms for
itself. The basis of this contract is that the Moeara Enim Company, after deduct-
ing minimum freight, a fair commission, and the cost of exploitation, shall receive
a fixed price, as well for the illuminating oil as for the by-products. In addition
to this price, which yields a good profit, the Moeara Enim Company has the right to
deliver twice the quantity, and it will be in a position to do this as soon as the
refineries now in process of construction are finished.

Of the profit above the standard price, the Moeara Enim receives 75 per cent;
the Shell Company, 25 per cent. The Moeara Enim Company has the right to
abrogate the contract on six months' notice; on the other hand, the Shell Company
has the right to prolong the contract, which is for seven years, only on the condition
that a high margin of profit, previously agreed upon, shall be assured to the Moeara
Enim Company.

The conditions for the Moeara Enim Company are obviously advantageous, the
more so as the by-products are treated on similar conditions. For instance, the use
of "astatki," a petsoleum residue which serves as a substitute for coal, has already
become so extensive that the trade in that article now surpasses that in the illumi-
nating oil itself. Therefore, the Shell Company has found it necessary to build in
the principal cities of eastern Asia special tanks and apparatus for this product
also. The company is in negotiation with the German Government for the installa-
tion of a similar plant in Kyao-chau. Many think that the time is near when this
article will replace coal on steamships.

It is hard to predict just what the consequences of this union of the East Indian
and Russian petroleum producers will be. The Samuel combination has at present
no idea of making an aggressive campaign against the Standard Oil Company,
and, similarly, the latter company would look very carefully before starting a war
with such a powerful combination as an opponent.

The territory to be supplied is so great that a division of it by the two parties is
not only possible, but also highly probable; while, on the other hand, the con-
sumers are protected by the possibility of competition from being unduly imposed
upon by either of the two combinations.


I inclose herewith an article clipped from a Singapore paper, from
which it will be seen that the production of natural indigo is seri-
ously threatened by artificial indigo manufactured from coal-tar

This new industry seems to be established in Germany, but is
reaching out in the East and attacking natural indigo on its own

The article is interesting, and the facts are true enough; but,
although the situation maybe desperate as regards British India and

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the Straits, the indigo industry has been holding its own very well
in Java, as is shown by the figures below. It is safe to say that until
the outlook becomes very much more unpromising and a better pay-
ing industry offers itself, indigo wili continue to be raised on this

I have been unsuccessful in procuring figures of the profits or
losses in planting; but those planters with whom I have talked,
allowing for the natural discontent peculiar to those engaged in agri-
cultural pursuits the world over, do not appear to be unduly dissat-
isfied, and last year's prices were no less than usual.

The total indigo produced in Java in 1896 (figures for 1897 and
1898 not yet out) was 723,82^ kilograms (1,592,410 pounds), on 144


Imports (from Straits
Settlements only).

Exports (none to the
United Sutes).



361 121








Three-fourths of the exports went to Holland. I am informed
that the exports for 1898 show a decided increase over those of 1897.

Sidney B. Everett,
Batavia, March 7, /<?pp. Consul.

[From the Straits Budfl^et, Sing^apore, February 9, 1899.]

Some few days ago, we announced that coal tar had yet another conquest to re-
cord, in that it threatened to supplant the indigo trees of India and Java by supplying
an indigo chemically identical with, and infinitely purer than, that hitherto on the
market. Since the paragraph to that effect appeared, we have been enabled to col-
lect further information on the subject, which, of course, is not without its interest
for the indigo-importing firms of Singapore and those who have hitherto been in
the habit of making use of the natural article. To put the matter in a nut shell,
producers of natural indigo are in a bad way; in fact, there is at present taking
place a revolution in the industry, owing to the introduction by the Badische Anilin
and Soda Fabrik of an article which is claimed to be of one uniform and invariable
quality. The competition of the artificial product — which has been but two years
on the market — sits heavily upon all who are interested in the natural indigo,
especially in India. Thence, of course, the greater part of the world's supply oi
indigo has in the past come. People are asking how long it will be ere the
great German factory at Ludwigshafen will have driven the natural products — not
of indigo only, but of other substances used for a like purpose — from the markets ol
the world. There are signs in India of a drawing in in all directions in the district*

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in whicb indigo is grown. In Bengal, the indigo forecast for last year was for an
area nearly lo per cent less than the average; in the Northwestern Provinces and
Oudh, it was 37)^ per cent below the average; in the Punjab, 33 per cent less than
the small area of last year; in Madras, it was much less than half the average.
The indigo growers are despondent, and hesitate to embark their capital in the
production of a commodity which is threatened with being displaced by the syn-
thetically prepared artificial dye.

The demand for this latter is meanwhile growing largely, not in Europe and
America alone, but in the eastern markets. The claims that are put forward on
its behalf are of the most formidable kind; and they will, perhaps, meet with the
more serious attention, seeing that artificial indigo is not one of the surprises of
modern chemistry suddenly sprung upon the industrial world. The same patient
and laborious process of experimental synthesis which resulted in the production
of alizarin, the coloring matter of madder, from coal tar, has been pursued for
many years in the artificial production of indigotin, the coloring principle of pure
indigo. It has taken many years to make the process a commercial success, but
those who are engaged in it appear to be confident that they have at length reached
the goal. In some of the indigo-growing districts of India, efforts have been made
for some time past to increase the purity of the local natural product; but at the
best, it stands at a disadvantage of nearly 9 per cent in purity in comparison with
its German competitor, which claims to have nearly 99 per cent of pure indigo
blue. To further emphasize the falling ofif in the Indian trade, it may be mentioned
that, whereas the quantity of natural indigo exported during 1896-97 was 109,001
cwts., in 1897-98 it was 71,364 cwts. These figures show a decline of 34.5 per
cent, and last year's figures are the lowest for some years past. The falling off
is principally noticeable in the exports to the United Kingdom, which have de-
creased by 54.4 per cent. With the exception of the United States, the trade with
which has continued much the same as in previous years, and Turkey in Asia,
which shows a slight increase in its limited consumption, the exports from India
have stagnated generally with European countries. The unfortunate condition to
which this thriving industry is reduced is in great measure due to the introduction
of the German article, but it has also to be remembered that there has been a good
deal of overproduction in many of the indigo-growing districts, a tightness in the
money market, and that there arc still heavy stocks in the home markets. It is a
hopeful sign, however, that Japan and Egypt are furnishing new and rapidly
growing markets; the large stocks may yet be absorbed by the small dealers who
got rid of their supplies owing to the Badische scare.

There is a good deal of dyeing going on at Singapore, and the new product has
been used experimentally by several Chinamen, who have pronounced the results
to be far and away better than any obtained with natural indigo. The German
preparation, in fact, is found to be about twenty times stronger in dyeing qualities
than Singapore indigo. That being so, and the price being commensurately mod-
erate, we may anticipate that very little other than the German preparation will
soon be in use here. It is evident that the planter of indigo has to meet science
with science, but he has entered into the contest late in the day, and the prospect
before him is not a bright one.

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Korean trade for 1898 shows a falling off in comparison with re-
ports for the year 1897. The complete customs returns are not yet
available, but I have secured the figures as to the total exports and
imports and a list of the principal articles imported from America,
from which the table appended to this report is made.

The total trade for 1897 was 23,511,350 yen ($ii,755><^25 gold),
while for the year 1398 it was 17,527,864 yen ($8,763,932 gold). This
is accounted for by the fact that the effects of the scarcity of rice men-
tioned in my report of April last * and due to the short crop of the
summer of 1897 have not been dissipated by the generous crop of
1898, and the people seem inclined not to part with their food supply
as readily as in former years of plenty. In spite of this general falling
off in trade, importations from the United States have increased.
The customs returns are not clear as to the proportion of American
goods, they being often classed with English and European prod-
ucts. I have prepared a list of American imports, however, showing
that goods which may be safely considered as American were im-
ported in 1898 to the value of 1,270,075 yen ($635,037.50 gold), of\
which the chief items were: Railroad material, $297,861.50; kero- \
sene, $189,380.

In this connection, I wish to correct an error that has crept into
the report of the United States consul at Chefoo on the trade of that
port, published in Consular Reports No. 221 (February, 1899). In
giving a comparison of the trade of the port of Chefoo with the trade
of certain other countries in American goods, it is stated that the
total of American imports into Korea for the year 1897 amounted
to but $68,074. In my report on the trade of Korea for 1897, pub-
lished in Consular Reports No. 215 (August, 1899), p. 563, 1 showed
that American imports into Korea for that year amounted in round
numbers to $400,000 gold.f

Manchester sheetings are being largely replaced by Japanese cot-
ton yarns, which are woven by the women on their hand looms at
home. As the labor of women is not considered of any value, a more
durable cloth is obtained for less money than would be paid for the
imported article. The import of shirtings and sheetings for 1898
is estimated to be 500,000 pieces, with 13 pieces to a picul. From
a very reliable source, I have an estimate that within a few years

♦See Consular Reports No. 215 (August, 1898), p. 563.

tNoTK BY Bureau of Foreign Commekck — The statement referred to was quoted from figures
given by the United States Treasrry Bureau of Statistics, and referred only to the direct exports
from the United States to Korea.

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Korean imports will show a percentage of 90 per cent Japanese yarns
to 10 per cent sheetings and shirtings, instead of just the opposite,
as has lately prevailed.


The Koreans can not, apparently, resist the temptation to run
into debt when the opportunity occurs. They seem not to consider
the day of payment, but rather trust to some lucky chance for re-
lease from the obligation. This tendency, and the strange com-
placency of large Chinese firms as well as of some Japanese in
allowing credit to irresponsible Koreans, has had quite a paralyzing
effect on Chemulpo trade of late, as the Chinese* have begun to sue
for the amounts due them. This frightens a certain class of trade
away from the port. Japanese and Chinese have acquired so much
real estate through the foreclosure of mortgages that the Korean
Government has begun to object to recording title deeds, lest the
city of Seoul and other places slip entirely into the hands of these
foreigners. Koreans possess the feeblest commercial instinct. Their
shops are almost always little booths, where the owner sits surrounded
by his wares; and if a purchaser chances to ask for a thing out of the
merchant's reach while the latter is enjoying a quiet pipe or for some
other reason does not wish to be disturbed, he will reply that the
article is out of stock.

An American, some time ago, desiring to find an article for ex-
port, decided on certain artistic mats, and, having agreed upon a
price, asked the dealer how soon he could furnish him with 5,000 of
them. The man replied promptly that if he wanted as many as that,
he would have to charge double the price.

In view of these conditions, Korean cities will probably fare as have
Manila, Bangkok, and other places in the Far East, where the thrifty
Chinese merchant has replaced the native trader.


Akin to the mercantile apathy of the people is the reluctance with
which they allow other people to do what they seem unable to accom-
plish themselves. The idea seems to prevail among the Koreans that
anything Korean is greatly desired by the outside world. This may
be accounted for by the fact that for centuries they completely
closed their doors to all comers, and when they were forced to open,
it was the prelude to robbery and pillage. Now, when a foreigner
asks for a right to develop some dormant Korean interest, suspicion
is at once aroused, and the thing, which may have possessed no pre-
vious value in the estimation of the owner, at once seems to be a
most desirable possession.

This is notably true of the coal mines. Koreans heat their

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houses by means of flues, laid under a tight stone and cement floor,
sealed with a strong layer of oiled paper. The fuel for these flues
is wood, grass, and brush. This fuel has to be transported on the
backs of men, bulls, or ponies for a long distance, and is therefore
very expensive. Korea has large deposits of smokeless coal which
foreigners have shown is well adapted for use in their heating sys-
tem, which would be a great saving in expense, while the proper
development of these mines would furnish a much-needed coal sup-
ply for other purposes. So far, all attempts to obtain a coal-mining
concession have failed, and these deposits lie practically neglected,
except that a little rotten surface coal is got out each year and sold to
foreigners at $9 gold per ton. As this stuff is mostly dust by the
time it reaches its destination, it is mixed with red clay and made
up into balls by hand, which burn excellently, but are unnecessarily
costly in a country where good coal should be readily available at a
low price.

A Russian company has just received a license to catch whales
off the coast of Korea and brWig them to one of three ports on the
east coast of the peninsula, for the purpose of cutting them up for
shipment. These ports have been so used by this company for some
time, but as this use was held to be a violation of treaty, the Korean
customs seized a Russian whaling vessel and detained her for a
couple of weeks, for which detention an indemnity of 35,000 yen
($17,500) was demanded and the license above mentioned asked. It
seems to haye been held that as the Japanese have been in the habit
of fishing along the Korean coast, the same right should be granted
to others. The Japanese, however, have this right by virtue of cer-
tain regulations agreed upon between the two Governments in No-
vember, 1889, by which Japanese fishermen pay for fishing licenses
per annum:


For a vessel manned by 10 or more persons , 10=^4. 98

For a vessel manned by 5 to 9 persons 5= 2. 49

For a vessel manned by 4 or less persons 3= 1.49

Penalties are provided for violation of these regulations, and
whales are not included in the license. This interest, as prosecuted
by the Japanese, is officially announced to amount to 3,500,000 yen
($1,750,000) per annum. The Koreans themselves are indifferent
fishermen and neglect this promising industry, though, as fish are
common and plenty in the market, the demand is probably supplied.


The Russians who take whales off the coast of Korea cut up the
blubber and flesh, salt it, and send it to Japan for sale as food. The
Japanese consume large quantities of this meat. The market seems

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to be extensive and the prices good. This Russian company em-
ploys several vessels in catching the whales, which are shot from
steamships and towed ashore, to be cut up and salted. As the whale-
bone is inferior, I understand but little attention is paid to this, the
large bones being sent to Japan for manure. This might offer a
market for our own whales. I learn from Japanese sources that
2,030,912 pounds of whale flesh were imported into Nagasaki alone
during 1898, valued at 112,940 yen ($56,470 gold).

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 224-227 → online text (page 49 of 92)