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Referring to Consul General Wolf's returns it appears that 2,220 sail-, ing vessels and 970 steamships entered the port of Alexandria during the year 1881. The American flag was represented in this great fleet by one sailing vessel.
There passed through the Suez Canal during the year 1880, 2,017 vessels, sail and steam, of 4,373,964 real tonnage. Of these, 1,579, of 3,460,977 real tonpage, were British—three-fourths of the whole number and more than three fourths of the whole toppage. The remainder car. ried the following flags: The French 103, the Dutch 69, the Austrian 60, the Italian 52, the German 35, the Russian 22, the Turkish 11, the Danish 10, the Norwegian 7, the Portuguese 6, various 11, the Egyptian 14. The American flag was not represented in the fleet.
During the ten years en:ling with 1879, there passed through the Suez Canal 12,454, of 23,105,535 tons, 9,154 of which of 17,555,447 tons—were British, and 15, of 21,000 tons, American. The great preponderance of British shipping is illustrated in Consul-General Wolf's returns, where he shows that during the decade under review the Eng. lish flag covered 734 per cent. of the vessels and 75.48 per cent. of the tonnage of the total navigation of the canal, leaving for the flags of all other nations 264 per cent, in ships and 24.52 per cent. in tonnage.
In writing upon the condition of American trade with Egypt, and with nearly all other countries bordering on the Mediterranean, the late consul general at Cairo (Mr. Farman), under date of March 7, 1881, referred in the following forcible and truthful language to our want of direct American steam (:ommunication and the consequent insignificance of our trade therewith:
The advantages of a direct line of communication between these countries and the United States must be apparent to any person who has examined the subject, not only as regards our prestige as a nation and the interests of our commerce, but more particularly as affecting the continued prosperity of our manufactures.
It is humiliating for a nation of such wealth, power, extent of territory, and natural commercial advantages as the United States, to be driven from the seas by other nations, who take the same pride and interest in fostering and protecting their merchant marine that we do in protecting and encouraging our home industries.
The American flag is very rarely scen in Oriental waters. Occasionally one of our war vessels, in making the circuit of the Mediterranean ports, calls at Alexandria, and for a few days the stars and stripes are seen floating amid the forest of masts which is always in the harbor. But this does not aid our commerce. English, French, Italian, Austrian, and Russian merchant steamers come and go almost daily, while the United States has not a single representative among them.
This unfortunate condition of things will undoubtedly continue until some decided action is taken by the government to promote and protect its commerce Commerce needs aid and protection as much as manufactures, and it is the manufacturer wbo should first demand for it such legislation as would enable him to compete with foreign nations—for commerce, in all ages the mother of national wealth, has, in modern times, been the great auxiliary of the producer, wbether of mechanical or agri- . cultural products.
Without American merchant ships for the direct transportation of our goods, our manufactures cannot be successfully extended beyond what is necessary to supply the demands of our own country. It will only be when we can shin our own products, in our own vessels, direct to all parts of the world, that we shall be able to sell that amount of goods that our skill and the cheapness and abundance of our material give us a reasonable right to expect.
Freights by circuitons routes, with their various transshipments, are not only too high, but the time required for this indirect transportation is too great to enable us to successfully compete with Europe in the Orient. I have several times succeeded in getting importers in Egypt in communication with our manufacturers for the purpose of baving them try our goods, but the experiment bas generally had very little success. It was not because our goods of the same class and quality were not cheaper than those imported from Europe, but because of the time and costs of transportation,
our different systems of doing business as regards credits, and the want of adaptation of our goods to this market.
As an instance, a gentleman of my acquaintance sent to the interior of New York for a quantity of glassware, which was packed in barrels and shipped to his address. It arrived in good condition, but the freight amounted to four-fifths as much as the first cost. The glassware was good and still cheap enough to sell at a fair advance, but it was not the style of the European wares, and to which this market has become accustomed, and therefore could not be sold to advantage. It is the same with cotton cloths. The English manufacture goods especially adapted to the Egyptian market as well as for all other markets. They export to Egypt and to other Oriental countries, for the use of the natives, a very poor article of cloth filled with sizing; but it is of a fixed width different from ours, and has a red stripe at the ends. It is sold by the piece, each piece being of a fixed length. A merchant recently said that however good the cloth might be, unless it had the red stripe on the ends and was of a certain width and length, it was of no value to him; his customers would not buy it. His trade was entirely with a certain class of natives. The Europeans living in Egypt require a different class of goods, but these number less than 100,000, and each nationality brings with it its own habits and customs, and will, to a great extent, always derive its supplies from the parent country. Still with proper management many more American goods could be sold in the Orient both to Europeans and the natives,
European mercantile houses have agents who reside here or are sent out from time to time to make the circuit of the cities of the East to learn the wants of native merchants and to supply the same.
To state the case in a few words, I give it as my opinion, based upon the observations of nearly five years' residence in Egypt, that until our goods are manufactured in a style to suit the habits and wants of the people, and until reliable and competent agents are sent out to sell the same, and communications established for direct shipments thereof, we cannot expect any considerable increase in our trade in the Orient.
During the year 1880 seventeen steamers left Port Said direct for New York loaded with tea. Fifteen of these were English, one German, and one Danish. If these steamers had belonged to our own merchant marine, and had taken out American produce and manufactures to the various Oriental countries it could not but have been beneficial to our conimercial interests, and they might, under proper management, have opened the way for an extensive commerce in the future.
SOUTHERN DIVISION. The southern division of the continent of Africa may be defined as follows: From Cape Verde on the west coast around by the Cape of Good Hope and down the East Coast to Cape Guardafui. This, for convenience and for the better understanding of the large and complicated trade thereof, may be separated into three distinct commercial subdivisions, viz, the West Coast, embracing Senegambia, Liberia, Upper and Lower Guinea, and the colonies therein; the South Coast, embracing the British possessions of Cape Colony and Natal; and the East Coast, embracing the Native States from Cape Colony to Cape Guardafui, together with the islands of Madagascar, Zanzibar, and the British and Freuch islands of Mauritius and Réunion.
COMMERCE OF THE WEST COAST. The West Coast, herein embraced, begins with Senegal and ends at Cape Colony. The foreign trade thereof may be estimated as follows:
$4,600,000 $4,000,000 $8, 600, 000
826, 000 1,000,000 1, 826, 000 2, 261, 0001 1, 626, 000 4,087, 000
600,000 600, 000 1, 200, 000 1, 914,000! 1, 910, 000 3,824, 000
150,000 150, 000 300,000 2, 565, 000 3, 177, 000 5, 742, 000 2, 600,000 2, 250, 000 4, 850, 000 6,600,000 12, 570, 000 19,170,000 22, 116, 000 27, 483, 000| 49, 599, 000
The value of the trade of the British possessions, as above given, is official; the trade of the remainder of the coast is based upon the most available statistics at hand. The total trade is rather under than over stated, as will be seen from the following figures: The imports into the West Coast from Great Britain during the year 1880 amounted to $10,245,000, and from France to $5,183,000, thus leaving about $4,000,000 for all other countries. The exports from the West Coast during the same year to England amounted to $14,151,000, and to France to $9,514,000, leaving only about $3,800 for all other countries.
It should be borne in mind, however, that a large portion of the trade of the several other countries in Europe with the West Coast is carried on through France and England.
The share of the United States in the trade of the West Coast cannot be definitely ascertained, owing to the indirect manner in which it is effected, and to the further fact that our customs returns do not define our imports therefrom and exports thereto. According to British colonial returns, and consular reports from Liberia and Sierra Leone, the following statistics partly supply this deficit:
According to the estimates of the consul-general at Monrovia, the above imports into Liberia represent those brought in American vessels alone. It is more than probable that the American goods consumed in Liberia amount to over $300,000 annually. It is safe therefore to assume that American goods to the value of at least $2,000,000 are consumed annually on the West Coast.
COMMERCE OF SENEGAL.
There being no American consular representative in Senegal, no further particulars of its foreign trade than are to be found in the official returns showing the imports and exports of France therewith can be given. An investigation into the official statistics of Great Britain satisfies me that the trade of Senegal with France comprises, substantially, almost the entire trade of the colony.
The commerce of France with Senegal during the year 1880 was as follows: Imports from the colony, $3,833,000; exports thither, $3,701,000. Of the exports more than one-half represented other than French goods, viz, goods in transit through France, but the produce and manufacture of other countries.
The details of the trade of France with Senegal given herewith render it probable that American goods may have entered into this transit trade, although to what extent it is impossible to say.
$1, 241, 000
81, 000 294, 000 52, 000
3,000 51, 000 20, 000 15, 000 30, 000 72, 000
25, 000 20, 000
4. 000 28,000 27,000 25, 000 25,000 24,000 20, 000 11, 000 11, 000 11, 000
5, 000 228, 000
5,000 55, 000 37, 000 54, 000 51, 000 37, 000 16, 000 17, 000 22, 000 407, 000
THE COMMERCE OF GAMBIA.
Gambia being a British colony, the want of an American consul thereat, as far as general trade returns are concerned, is not so severely felt as in the African colonies of other European countries, owing to the full and accurate colonial reports published in London. The total trade of Gambia during the year 1880, according to official returns, was as follows: Imports, $826,000; exports, $676,000. The imports, as compared with the preceding year, show an increase of $40,000, while the exports, owing to a partial failure of the ground-nut crop, the principal article of export, show a decrease of $370,000. The average annual ex. ports of Gambia may therefore be estimated at $1,000,000.
The details of the trade of 1880 are given as follows:
Imports into Gambia.
In British official publications, the trade of England is not given sep. arately with Gambia, this colony being statistically classified therein with Sierra Leone. British trade with “Gambi, and Sierra Leone" will therefore be found under the latter colony.
COMMERCE OF SIERRA LEONE. According to an interesting report from Consul Lewis, the foreign trade of Sierra Leone during the year 1880 was as follows: Imports. $2,261,000; exports, $1,826,000. The share of the United States in this general trade was as follows: Imports from the United States, $220,000; exports to the United States, $182,000.
Consul Lewis gives the following statement showing the principal articles of import at Sierra Leone, and remarks that of these the United States furnishes only a very small portion :
Principal articles of import at Sierra Leone.