Wilfrid Richmond.

The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 online

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Canada was rapidly improving her position.
India, the Argentine Republic, and Australasia
merely supplemented the deficiencies of this
supply. But the situation has changed radically,
in the last three years, through the enormous
deficiency in the supply from the United States,
coupled with a corresponding rise in that from
India, the Argentine and eastern Europe. More-
over, there are elements of permanence in the
change. Apart from the fact that the United
States may have considerably less to spare, in
the near future, after the satisfaction of the
needs of her own industrial population, there
are evident economic advantages involved in the
purchase of food supplies from those regions
which, in their turn, provide an equivalent
market for British manufactures. The imports
of live cattle from Europe have also ceased,
while a new trade in fresh meat with the most
distant regions has been created under modern
conditions of transport.

In spite of these changes, there has not been
that decrease in west-European imports into the
United Kingdom which might have been antici-
pated. Though staple foods for ^ export are
only available on a large scale in the non-
industrial eastern districts of Europe, the neigh-
boring countries of the west still supply, for
British consumption, large quantities of the
minor perishable food products. Superior or-
ganization and better facilities for transport
enable the small grower abroad to supply the
great consuming centres with much that could
readily be produced in agricultural England.
Compensation has also been provided by the
enormous growth in the import of beet-sugar,
stimulated by the bounty system — a growth of
many hundred per cent in twenty years. Since
the abolition of the bounties by the convention
which* came into force in 1903 there has been a
considerable decrease in the supply of beet-sugar
from Europe, with an increase in that of cane-
sugar from tropical regions ; but it is impossible
to forecast the ultimate position of equilibrium.
Further compensation is to be found in the in-
creasing volume of the stream of those con-
tinental ^ manufactures which find a ready
market in the United Kingdom. The net im-
port of foreign manufactured goods, more than
half of which are ready for consumption, has
doubled in the last generation and is now valued
at upwards of ii 30,000,000 sterling annually.
The greater part of this must be credited to the
industrial regions of western Europe. Formerly
one of the best markets for the British manu-
facturer^ they are now reversing to some extent
the earlier movement, and invade with success
the British market, either supplementing or
competing with the native industries.

In raw material the changes are less con-
spicuous. American cotton and Australian?
wool still dominate the market; but the tin for
British industries is now largely imported from

Digitized by



Malaya and Australia, while even for iron ore
it is found necessary to utilize more and more
the Spanish, Scandinavian and other foreign
supplies. The import trade in raw material
and food has one characteristic common to
all its branches, that is the vastly increased
distance from which commodities can be
gathered and to some extent the multiplica-
tion of possible alternative sources. In fact,
the need of an alternative, particularly when
no native supply is available, has so impressed
itself, not merely on the individual importer
but on the great manufacturing interests as a
whole and on many responsible officials and
politicians, that it bids fair to give rise to a new
type of commercial policy, in defence of the
national economic interests.

Foreign Markets. — The question of a for-
eign market for British manufactures raises
more difficulties than that of the source of
imports. As a general rule, the supply of the
latter can be safely left to the foreign coun-
tries interested in their production; but British
exports must seek out their market in the
face of the world-wide competition. In this
connection it is worth noting that the pro-
portion of manufactures in the total exports
of British produce to the chief protected for-
eign countries, fell in the last twenty years of
the 19th century from 85 to 72 per cent. In
the same period the total export of coal more
than trebled, while the number of the popu-
lation engaged in mining shows a heavy rela-
tive and absolute increase. These two facts,
taken together, are not without significance;
though a proportion of the coal exported is
accounted for by the enormous increase in the
tonnage of British steam shipping engaged in
the trade of the world.

Apart altogether from the effects of fiscal
policy, the development of the industrial activi-
ties of western Europe and the United States
has necessarily narrowed the market for British
manufactured staples. Both regions take a
smaller proportionate share of British exports,
while in the case of the United States there has
been a heavy absolute fall, for which woolens and
tinplate are largely responsible. The European
trade has maintained its value and in some
cases has shown a tendency to increase; but
the type seems to be changing steadily; coal,
yarn, and machinery for continental industries
tend more and more to take the place of fin-
ished goods. The census returns provide a
valuable comment on the statistics of exports.
Among the greater industries, iron and steel
and their manufactures alone show an increase
in the proportion of # the population employed,
comparable to that in mining. Woolens and
other textiles show a large decrease. Cotton
shows a slight increase in the total number but
not commensurate with the growth of popula-
tion. But allowance must be made for more
efficient machinery and labor; while the activ-
ity of Lancashire during the last two years,
as evidenced by the building of new mills and
the greatly increased import of raw cotton and
export of "finished goods, suggests that the next
census will tell a very different tale.

"The cry for new markets and the ^open
door 19 is not without good foundation. In the
west, the United States has evident advantages;
Germany, owing to her position and her land

frontiers, is exceptionally favored for inter-
course with the purely agricultural regions of
Europe; while, in the Far East, Japan has
started on an industrial career which compels
her to import food and raw material rather
than finished products. There remain as open
markets China, nearer Asia, South America, and
the British colonial possessions. The fact that
staple British exports have found a rapidly ex-
panding market in the self-governing^ colonies
has masked the decline in other directions.
How long the expansion will continue it is im-
possible to say; the colonies are not without
their own individual aspirations, but it is likely
to be long before their manufacturing capacity
overtakes the demand of their vast agricultural

The British exporter has to face a steady
contraction of the world-markets freely open
.to him, with increased competition in these
markets from regions formerly his customers,
now self-supporting and rivals in his own line
of business. He may change gradually the
character of the products exported, though al-
ways within the limits set by the national
resources of the country; he may find better
outlets for miscellaneous articles than for the
great staples, but export he must unless the
whole economic system is to collapse. He is
affected, not merely by the economic policy of
foreign states, but by the rise of conditions in
the world-market for manufactures, which were
scarcely contemplated a generation ago; these
conditions may concern more vitally a highly
specialized industrial country than one which,
either by policy or by natural advantage, is
enabled to maintain a better balance of its
productive energies and a larger independence
of foreign supplies.

Hitherto the British producer and merchant
have risen superior to difficulties; ground lost
in one direction has been gained in another,
while competition has served as a stimulus
to greater exertion, and in spite of fluctuations
and temporary depressions, the volume of Brit-
ish trade has steadily increased; and this fact
gives strong support to the view that the energy
and adaptability of the United Kingdom, alike
in the spheres of industry and commerce, are
as yet far from reaching a limit

The following statistical tables give a gen-
eral view of the progress of British trade for
10 years.








2 l 4









942 426
487 377
173 430



Exports of
foreign and
colonial *





a8 x
084 1
819 x
104 1

,049,681, 008

♦The important difference between the system of the
United Kingdom and other systems is that the former shows
the values at the time of import and export, whilst in most
other countries the prices are computed at the prices of a
year or more before.

Digitized by






Exports of



Total im-
ports and


£ s. d.

12 11 3
12 11 10
12 16 1

12 17 6

13 I 5

13 18 s

14 12 XI
13 6 3

13 17 7

14 18 s

£ s. d.

6 14 9
6 15 x

6 17 3

7 12 7

8 12

9 13 13

8 10 4

9 9 5

£ s. d

20 18 8

20 18 4

21 6 3






24 9 6
26 7 10
»3 II 3
2 J. 6 4
26 13 5





The principal imports on which customs
duties are levied are beer and spruce, chic-
ory, cocoa, coffee, dried fruits, motor spirits,
spirits, sugar, tea, tobacco and wine — spirits,
sugar, tobacco, tea, and wine yielding the bulk
of the entire levies.

Bibliography — Volume of Trade. — The
source of all ordinary information as to British
trade is the ( Annual Statement of Trade with
Foreign Countries and British Possessions \
supplemented by the ( Annual Statement of
Navigation and Shipping. The chief defect
in the series is that until 1904 the figures rep-
resented ports from and to which the goods
are shipped, and not countries of origin or
ultimate destination. In other words, British
trade relations, particularly with certain Euro-
pean countries, are entirely misrepresented. A
supplementary volume is now issued which at-
tempts to get at the real facts of the case.

Exports and Imports, Distribution and
Changes.— Much valuable information as to the
historical growth of British trade can be gath-
ered from the Report of the Royal Commis-
sion in Trade Depression (1886), supplemented
by Parliamentary papers C. 6394 (1891), C 821 1
(1896), and Cd. 176 1 (1903), which bring down
to date the statistical information as to British
trade and production. The Parliamentary
paper, ( Food Supplies Imported i870-i902 )
(No. 179, 1903), gives in detail the changes in
the sources of supplies in the period. The
Report of the Royal Commission on Food
Supply in Time of War* contains much miscel-
laneous information as to sources of imports,
including raw materials. Consult also the
Parliamentary paper Cd. 1199 ( Memorandum
on Comparative Statistics of Population, In-
dustry and Commerce > (1002); Cd. 1761
* Memoranda and Statistical Tables on British
and Foreign Trade and Industrial Conditions >
(1903}, and Cd. 2337 < Second Series of Memo-
randa*, on the same subject, (1904).

These volumes contain a vast amount of
miscellaneous information of the latent date on
British trade in relation to industry and for-
eign competition. They are not without serious
inaccuracies, but represent the best official
information available. The statistics cover a
long period of years.

A. J. Sargent,
Appointed Teacher of Foreign Trade in the
University of London; Author of <The
Economic Policy of Colbert* .

20 (a). Great Britain -— Navigation Acts.
In the 17th century the independence of the
English nation as a nation had been secured.

Spain had been conquered at sea, and hence-
forth maritime power became more than ever
the great national ideal. Comparatively safe
from the dominance of a foreign power, and her
internal resources in process of rapid develop-
ment, all the conditions were present for Eng-
land to expand beyond the seas and to attempt
to secure for herself that pre-eminent position
in the world's commerce hitherto held by
Holland. England's dominating purpose dur-
ing the 17th century was to build up her foreign
commerce, to outrival the Dutch at every point,
to constitute herself the great warehousing and
distributing depot of Europe and to induce the
colonies to contribute to the power of the
mother country by growing commodities for her
to re-export. When Scotland or Ireland seemed
likely to encroach on the colonial trade they
were carefully excluded. . '

All through the changes of dynasty from
Charles I. to the time of the Whig predomi-
nance the same idea holds good ; and the instru-
ment by which all this was to be effected was
the series of Navigation Acts or Acts of Trade.

The Navigation Acts were no new thin* in
the 17th century. There was one as early as
1381 (5 R. II. St. I. c. 23). It forbade goods
to be exported or imported by Englishmen
except *in ships of the King's liegance.* This
Act was inoperative, however, owing to the lack
of English shipping, but the idea of the statute
was never lost sight of. A similar Act was
passed in 1463 (3 Ed. IV. c. I) but was
dropped after three years, Efforts were again
made to enforce a monopoly for English ships
under Henry VII. (I. H. VII. c 8 and 4 H.
VII. c. 10) and in 1540 the old laws were re-
enacted, the freights defined, and inducements
offered to aliens to use English ships. Eliza-
beth gave up the policy of confining English
trade generally to English ships and by an Act
of 1563 (5 Eliz. c. s) merely reserved the coast-
ing trade.

In the 17th century the Navigation Acts were
revived. In the early part of the century they
took the form of royal letters and proclamations,
but in the latter part the policy was embodied
in the statutes of 1651 and the series of Acts
between 1661 and 1696.

From the 17th century till the final repeal
of the Acts between 1822 and 1854, the policy
of confining English and colonial trade to
English ships was consistently pursued.

The novel feature of the 17th century Navi-
gation Acts did not lie so much in their con-
tinuous enforcement as in their enlarged scope
and their application to the colonial trade.
The Dutch being the greatest traders of the
time had got the bulk of the English colonial
trade into their hands by making advances to
the colonists on the security of future crops.
These they duly received when grown and dis-
tributed from Amsterdam. This conduct the
English regarded as directly contrary to the
whole object of colonization, the general view
at that time being that people should only leave
the mother country in order to build up Eng-
lish trade and shipping elsewhere.

The feeling of jealousy with regard to the
Scotch was almost as strong. It is true that
they were not such formidable rivals, but they
were said to sail cheaper than the English, and
as they had close trade relations with the Dutch

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it was feared that the latter might get hold of
the English trade through the Scotch.

"The Plantations are His Majesty's Indies*
runs a report of the Commissioners of Customs
(30 Oct. 1661) "without charge to him secured
and supported by the English subjects who
employ above 200 saile of good English ships
every year, breed abundance of mariners and
begin to* grow commodities of great value and
esteeme.* Were the Scotch allowed to trade
freely on the same footing as Englishmen it
would "in one word overthrow the very essence
and design of the Act of Navigation.*

The jealousy of both the Dutch and the
Scotch was keenly felt in the 17th century. As
soon as the plantations showed signs of develop-
ment measures were taken, primarily against the
Dutch, in order to secure the growing trade for

In 1621 we get the first of a series of orders
and letters sent out by the King to the Colonial
Governors with the object of having all colonial
goods brought to England and brought in
English ships. In 1624 a proclamation ordered
that no tobacco should be imported in foreign
bottoms. In 1629 another proclamation re-
enacted the old Navigation Laws as to English
trade generally. In 1633 the question of the
colonial trade was referred to a committee who
reported strongly in favOr of confining such
trade to English ships, and an order was ac-
cordingly issued to this effect. In 1637 letters
were sent out to the governors in America and
the West Indies ordering them to "strictly and
resolutely* forbid all trade and traffic with the

During the civil war the Dutch seem to have
got more and more of the trade of the English
colonies into their hands, and it became neces-
sary to revive the policy which had been pur-
sued under Charles I. This was done in the
Act of 165 1. The commonwealth wished to do
a popular thing by appealing to the English
hatred of the Dutch, and they no doubt also
intended to give the ship owners some compen-
sation for the overwhelming misfortunes which
the civil war had brought on them. The re-
strictions of the Act were not new, nor was it
enforced any more effectively than previous
Acts had been. Cromwell indeed did not be-
lieve in the polify, and so great was the dan-
ger to English shipping from the Spanish and
Royalist privateers that the government were
only too glad to see trade kept alive in neutral
ships. In the colonies the statute seems to have
been generally disregarded. In 1660 (12 C. II.
c. 18) the Act of 1651 was re-enacted with cer-
tain additions. The Act of 1651 had declared
that no goods € of the growth, production or
manufacture of Asia, Africa or America*
should be imported into England except in
English or colonial ships. Goods from Europe
might come either in English vessels or in the
ships of the country which produced the goods.
As Holland was not a producer she would be
particularly affected by this provision. In the
1660 Act the various clauses were made more
precise. Both the import trade and the export
trade of the plantations were to be carried in
ships, English built, English owned, and
manned by a crew of whom three parts were
English. By a later statute (14 C. II. c. 11)
colonial shipping was put on the same footing

as English for all the purposes of the Naviga-
tion Acts. Goods from Europe were subject to
the same restrictions as in the Act of 165 1, t. e.,
they might be imported either in English ships
or in ships of the country of origin. No at-
tempt was made to restrict the export of Eng-
lish goods to English ships except in so far as
the plantation trade was concerned.

The policy of developing the warehousing
trade through the Navigation Acts as outlined
by Charles I. was again taken up by his son.
A number of commodities — sugar, tobacco,
cotton, wool, indigo, ginger, fustick and dye-
woods — were "enumerated/ and could only
be exported from the colonies either to England
or to another English colony. Rice and naval
stores were added to the list in 1706, and copper
and beaver skins in 1722.

The Act of 1663 (15 C. II. c. 7) further
extended the policy of making England a great
entrepot by enacting that commodities of the
growth or manufacture of Europe that were
needed by the colonists should be shipped from
England in English or colonial vessels.

Thus, according to the Navigation Acts, the
bulk of colonial produce had to be brought to
the mother country, and the colonists were
bound to take their manufactures from her or
through her.

It should be observed that by these Acts the
Scotch were shut out from the plantation trade
and were not even reckoned as English for the
purpose of making up z crew (13 & 14 C. II.
c. 11) until the Act of Union. They petitioned
to be allowed to trade with the colonies, but a
Commission reported strongly against it because
such liberty would bring infinite loss to His
Majesty's customs and "much prejudice* to the

As to Ireland, enumerated goods could be
imported there, according to the Act of 1660,
and it seemed as if an Irish warehousing system
might have developed since food was so cheap
that many ships engaged in the colonial trade
went into Irish ports to victual. English jeal-
ousy of Ireland was, however, too strong for
her to be allowed to encroach on a province
which England regarded as the foundation of
her prosperity. An Act was passed in 1670 (22
& 23 C. II. c. 26) by which the staple colonial
commodities were henceforth brought to Eng-
land only. In 1695 Ireland was prohibited from
receiving even non-enumerated commodities as
the Bristol merchants complained of the injury
done to their trade.

After the Restoration, English shipping in-
creased rapidly; but it is not easy to estimate
the precise effect of the Acts in building up
the maritime power of England. The English
mercantile marine doubled between the Restor-
ation and the Revolution and continued to grow
all through the 18th century. Petty, writing in
1699 (Political Arithmetic,* pp. 258-9), said
that snipping had increased three or four fold
in the last 40 years; and Child (discourse of
Traded 1695). chronicles the great increase of
"Wharfs and Keys* to accommodate the grow-
ing trade. It is exceedingly difficult to esti-
mate the extent to which this increased pros-
perity was due to other factors as well as the
Navigation Acts. The English had been push-
ing trade in all directions after 1660; Charles

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II. had concluded a series of trade treaties
which gave great openings to English mer-
chants; the banking system was developing
with increased facilities for traders; the old
system of a steady but restricted trade car-
ried on by merchant companies was giving way
to the new principles of pushing trade any-
where and by all means. All these things
contributed to increase the demand for ship-
ping. But without the Navigation Acts it
might have been Dutch shipping that would
have profited, since Holland carried at much
cheaper rates than any other nation. At any
rate the Acts did secure that the increase of
trade should benefit national shipping, although
in the Baltic trades the results were at first
disastrous. The English had not sufficient
shipping for the trade, hence they could not get
timber, and accordingly English ship building
was hampered. It indeed became necessary to
relax the restrictions as far as Norway and
Sweden were concerned for three years (7 &
8 YV. III. c 22) to get in naval stores.

The policy of the Acts was attacked as
tending to increase prices and limit trade. But
the answer always was *that this kingdom is
an island the defence whereof hath always
been our shipping and seamen,* and that there-
fore ^profit and power ought jointly to be con-
sidered,* and Child, who thus anticipated
Adam Smith in his doctrine that defence is
more than opulence, added a I think none can
deny that the Act of Navigation hath and doth
occasion building and employing three times the
number of ships and seamen that otherwise we
should or would do.* Decker in 1766 referred
to it as a that most glorious bulwark of our
trade* (<High Duties,* p. 21.) Lord Shef-
field called h in 1783 tf the guardian of the
prosperity of Britain,* and even Adam Smith
says ^National animosity at that particular
time aimed at the very same object which the
most deliberate wisdom would have recom-

Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 23 of 185)