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fore the English manufacturers will learn to imitate the grade of that article that our exporters have introduced here?
A few Americans commenced bringing goods here, and soon found a demand for certain grades of our unbleached sheetings and shirtings; and, notwithstanding the determined opposition from the European and creole merchants, who had kept and continued to keep the market full of English brown cottons, these Americans, by persistent effort, finally succeeded in driving the English article out. But as the demand for this line of goods, and for kerosene oil at Madagascar, Zanzibar, and other ports in these parts proved to be sufficient to keep their vessels and capital employed, they have not wished to handle other goods on their own account, nor will they take freight for others, except now aud then some small article or quantity as an act of courtesy and special favor. They also seem to act as though thinking Madagascar to be a hidden place of trade, and that it would be in some way prejudicial to their interests to have the secret divulged. It is remarked that their vessels seldom, if ever, clear for Tamatave; it is either for Aden or Zanzibar, or for ports east of the Cape, even when they are sent direct from New York or Boston to this port.
If such management was only for the purpose of blinding European competitors, I should, of course, say nothing ; but that is not the case. They have no fears of injury to their line from the European trade. It is partially due to the competition here between American houses themselves, and between them and others, all handling this line of American goods, and partially to the fear that if more Americans should come here to trade, even though they might come with the intention to deal in general merchandise, and not in brown cottons, it would have a tendency to lessen the amount of sales of the old firms in some manner, or at least would take from them a portion of the products for exportation, for which there is sharp competition, as it is an important matter to get such for return cargoes. I think such fear is groundless. Such an establishment as I have suggested would neither divide nor draw froin the present American trade, but would simply compete with that portion of the trade which now runs in European channels direct and through the colonies. And its success in that competition would depend wholy upon its management, operating with a sufficient amount of capital.
I must not lead any party astray in this matter, and induce the sending of goods here upon uncertainties. Therefore let no one think of sending a general cargo with the expectation of finding purchasers with ready pay for large quantities at once; for the large importers are European firms who have partners or agents here, and estab. lisbed connections with manufacturers and shippers in Europe. Such houses do not wish to handle such American goods as would conflict with their European trade, and could not be expected to give such goods a fair trial. The American importers, as before said, will not handle general merchandise, and the multitude of smaller traders have not the means to purchase largely for ready pay.
I must state, however, as an exception to the foregoing, that there is one gentleman here, a creole merchant, who has accumulated a handsome capital by a long period of trade in general merchandise on this coast, with headquarters at this port, who tells me that he is not only willing to handle American goods, but would like much to receive on consignment American commodities of all kinds, and would do his best to place them; that he is not tied to the trade of any nationality, and has no prejudices against American trade, nor predilection for that of one country more than another; and if American mannfacturers or shippers wish to introduce their wares bere, and can manage to send them out to him on consignment, he will give them a fair trial on liberal terms as to commission, &c.
But here is involved one of the difficulties referred to above to be surmounted before Americans can get goods out here in a way that will enable them to compete with the European trade. It is the lack of direct communication. This one obstacle has already prevented the introduction of many thousands of dollars' worth of American general merchandise and specialties, which would have been ordered in small quantities from time to time bad there ben any way of getting them shipped direct. I am frequently asked if I can manage to get such and such articles or invoices of goods brought out, such as sewing-machines, musical instruments, sugar and rice mills, butter, cheese, canned goods, and, in fact, most all kinds of provisions and dry goods. I sent off one order a short time ago for $200 worth of millinery goods; another for a cooking stove; another for a heating stove and wool blankets for curing vanilla; another for provisions, &c., for different parties. But it is doubtfui if the owners of the vessels which come here will permit them to be shipped. There are a number of creole retailers here with limited means who would send small orders frequently for goods in their respective lines if there were any means of getting them brought out. Another difficulty is the lack of facilities of exchange. In this, as well as in getting the goods brought, the purchasers are forced to depend upon the favor of the American wholesale firms dealing, as before stated, exclusively in brown cottons, and who neither wish to take freight for others nor to have their agents draw on their home houses, as they do not want their money sent home, but the productions of the East. But as they are courteous gentlemen, as I said before, they dislike to refuse small favors, and it is only through this sentiment that any American goods, aside from the line in which these gentlemen deal, get here at all. That state of things does not look like endangering very much the European trade by American competition.
Thus it will be seen that in order to give Americans any chance to gain any consid. erable share of the trade in general merchandise, such an establishment as I have suggested, with sufficient capital, is absolutely needed. They should have at least two vessels come from the States every year, one every six months, to bring stocks of goods and take back the native products bought up during the intervals. The prospect is a good one for such a house, if established with a view to permanency and conducted judiciously and honestly.
[From a more recent report than the foregoing.) I have said so much heretofore relative to the feasibility of increasing our trade in this country by bringing a greater variety of our goods that I touch the subject at present with fear of being annoying. I still continue to receive letters of inquiry from our manufacturers relative to the prospect for placing their specialties, and many circulars describing their goods, but generally without price-lists, which neglect of itself renders their circulars and letters futile.
In this is exhibited a wonderful iguorance of the situation-of the fact that we are some 10,000 miles from the States, without banking facilities, and communications irregular; that it takes five or six months, and frequently longer time, to write and get a reply, and yet the manufacturers and merchants send us their letters and circulars, without price-lists, soliciting orders, with the very interesting information that they will accommodate so far as to receive payment upon shipment of the goods upon the bills of lading. Some, however, demand the money with order. Now, if persons here should desire to order any of the articles so advertised, how are they to do it? Even should they be willing to trust the distant seller to not swindle them either by sending spurious goods, overcharging, or not sending the goods at all, but keeping the mnoney, and are fortunate enough to find a party here from whom they can purchase a draft on the States for the sum needed, how are they to know what sum is required ?
I frequently have applications for some new thing, perhaps a new invention, which is found advertised in the journals, or by circulars sent to me, but no one here knows anything about the cost of the article, whether the price may be $50 or $500. How are they to decide whether to order or not, and how much to remit Evidently there is but one way-a way that not more than one in ten will follow; the nine will prefer to dispense with the article and let the matter drop: it is to write for a price-list, or at least for the price of that article, and it will take, as I have said, five to six months or more to get it. Then probably nine months more to send and get the article, even if a vessel can be found that will take it (which is always doubtful). Now, it must be a very un progressive person who would not, during that long time, get entirely out of conceit for the article, and his circumstances so changed that he would no longer think that he needed it. These circumstances point directly to the need of better facilities of communication between the United States and this part of the world; to the need of a line of steamers (which subject I shall speak of further on); and also to the need of an American commission house here in general merchandise and specialties.
In the meantime, the English and French importers are making renewed efforts to maintain their standing, and to increase their trade by enlarging its scope, and widening the field of their operations by new facilities of coasting by means of steamers. One house has just received one new steamer of 150 tons register, to run up and down the coast from this port, and to Mauritius and Bourbon. I am told they expect another like it for the same trade. Another party has just received a still smaller steamer from France (about 30 tons), which came out in sections and is now being put together, which is also intended for coasting. We have here one French house, which has, in addition to a number of small sailing coasters, two steamers, one of 430 tons register and the other about 600 tons, in this trade, which have been employed most of the time during the last year or two in transporting live cattle from the West Coast to Mauritius and Bourbon. This house also receives nearly all its goods from France by steamers either belonging to or chartered by the house.
In addition to these, we now have a monthly line of French mail steamers plying between Bourbon and Mayotte, touching at Tamatave, Sainte Marie and Nossi-Be. This line is subsidized by the French Government, and the first steamer called here on her first trip on the 24th ultimo. She is of 362 tons register. So we now hope to have regular communications with the world withont interruption by fear of the hurricane season, a facility which will be of much advantage to the Madagascar trade.
It seems vain to speak of the need of a line of United States merchant steamers to ply between the States and these parts so long as our merchants and our Congress remain indifferent to the subject of establisbing such lines to more important quarters; but the fact is that such facility would develop a wonderful increase to our trade, not only with Madagascar, but at Zanzibar and all the East African coast.
Coaling stations could be located at St. Helena, Cape Town, Tamatave, and Mojanga: This route would avoid the expense of tolls of the Suez Canal. I really believe that, even for our present trade, to say nothing about increasing it, it could be done with two 1,200-ton steamers as cheap, if not cheaper than now done with fleets of some eight or ten barks, and perhaps with less capital. This might be done if our shippers engaged in this trade would agree to unite interests in so far as transportation is concerned.
COMMERCE OF MAURITIUS.
According to the very interesting report from Consul Prentiss, dated July, 1881, giving the latest official statistics concerning the foreign commerce of Mauritius, the imports for the year 1879 amounted to $8,120,000, and the exports to $12,250,000, specie not included.
According to British official returns, the imports and exports of Mauritius during the same year were, specie excluded: Imports, $9,935,000; exports, $14,983,000.
The discrepancy between these returns must be owing to the difference of value placed upon the Indian rupee, which is the unit of currency of Mauritius, in its conversion into pounds sterling.
As Consul Prentiss has taken his estimates from the official returns of the island, and as the rupee has been given its Treasury valuation in 1879, 40 cents, in the foregoing estimates, it is thought that the imports and exports, as above reduced from the consul's returns, show the correct value of the trade of Mauritius.
The distribution of the foregoing trade, according to Consul Prentiss' report, was as follows, specie included :
The number of vessels entered at and cleared from Port Louis during the year under review was as follows: Entered, 610 vessels, of 258,209 tons, of which 537 brought cargoes and 73 entered in ballast. Cleared, 627 vessels, of 270,171 tons, of which 503 cleared with cargoes and 124 in ballast.
The nationality of the vessels were as follows: Entered, 345 British, 175 French, 40 German, 16 Italian, 9 Danish, 7 American, 4 Dutch, 2 Swedish, 1 Austrian, 1 Belgian, and i Spanish. Cleared, 366 British, 175 French, 42 German, 20 Italian, 8 Spanish, 4 American, &c.
Among the foregoing are included 13 vessels, both inward and outward, of the French Messageries Maritimes mail steamers, and 7 of the Donal Currie (British) mail steamers running between England and the Cape of Good Hope. The consul notes the withdrawal of these British steamers on account of the refusal of the colonial government to pay an annual subsidy of $36,450 thereto. Two vessels arrived at Mauritius during the year from and 7 cleared for the United States, two of the latter in ballast.
It follows that our trade with Mauritius is very limited, amounting in 1879, according to the consul's returns, to only $78,800, viz, $10,000 in imports from and $68,000 worth of sugar exported to the United States. As everything consumed on the island is imported—the indus.
try thereof being almost entirely confined to the growth of sugar—and as such imports are composed of manufactures and products in which the United States excels, there is no reason why, with proper appliances put in force, our trade with Mauritius should not compare favorably with that of any country in Europe.
Consul Prentis mentions especially the opening which seems to exist for American timber of various kinds, especially for building purposes, heavy hard woods being required on account of the destructiveness of the white ant. The best mode of procedure for the introduction of American trade into the island would be to establish a wholesale and retail warehouse, which could be always kept well stocked with general merchandise. Petroleum, lamps, chairs, ironmongery, drugs, coachironmongery and harness, and certain kinds of tools suitable for Mauritius agriculture, the consul says, would find a ready market.
The trade of England with Mauritius during the year 1880, according to British returns, was as follows: Imports from Mauritius, $1,382,000, a decrease of $7,370,000 in three years, which took place altogether in sugar; exports to Mauritius, $1,875,000, of which $140,000 represented foreign goods, such as butter, candles, cheese, coffee, guano, manufactured tobacco, wine, wood and timber, &c. The principal British exports to Mauritius were, cotton goods, $573,000; iron, wrought and unwrought, $250,000; apparel and baberdashery, beer and ale, coal, earthen and china ware, glassware, hardware and cutlery, hats, leather and leather goods, machinery, principally steam-engines, linens, manures. copper, and manufactures of, painters' colors and materials, woolens, &c,
COMMERCE OF RÉUNION.
From the most available statistical sources at hand, in the absence of American consular trade reports from the island, the total foreign commerce of Réunion may be set down as follows: Imports, $5,200,000; exports, $4,800,000. This estimate represents the trade of Réunion under normal circumstances, the exports being liable to very radical changes, owing to hurricaues and their attendant disasters; for instance, the exports of 1880 amounted to only about $3,000,000.
During the year 1880 the tonnage entered at Réunion amounted to 79,248 tons, which was entered as coming from the following countries: France, 18,964 tons; England, 2,286 tons; United States, 2,677 tons; the remainder being principally from India, Madagascar, Mauritius, Antwerp, &c.
The principal imports are rice, flour, lentils, beans, wines, beer, brandy, oils, lard, butter, codfish, hams, beef, guano, live animals, pine lumber, coal, &c., besides the French manufactures, which will be seen in the exports from France to the island.
The exports consist of sugar, coffee, vanilla, cloves, rum, hides, tobacco, drugs, &c.
Thé vessels sailing direct from the Uuited States to Réunion carry wheat, flour, lard, beef, &c. .
The British consul at Réunion, in a report dated in 1880, wrote as follows concerning British trade with the island:
There is no direct trade between England and Réunion; all the requirements of commerce come from France. Manchester and Birmingham goods shipped direct to this colony would find no market, and, if disposed of at all, it would only be at a ruinous loss. The creole population appear to be content with the merchandise they obtain from France and with the articles de Paris" and fancy goods the shops exhibit.
Neither are there any industries carried on in this colony the products of which could with advantage be sent to England-I know of none. The creoles, as is well known, are far too idle to put their hands to any kind of industry which entails work, and there is no spirit in the better class of creoles to urge the lower classes to awake from the dolce far niente life they prefer to pass their existence in. Both classes appear to have created a world of their own, from which they do not care to be disturbed, and matters which are passing in the outer world (except at present the question of immigration of Indian coolies to Réunion) concerns them but little.
The consul must have meant that there was comparatively little direct trade between his country and Réunion, for, according to British official returns, the direct exports from Great Britain thither amounted to $154,000 during the year 1880, composed principally of cotton and woolen goods. The exports of cotton goods thither amounted to 1,530,000 yards, valued at $89,000. There were no direct imports into England from Réunion during the year 1880.
The direct trade of France with Réunion during the year 1880 was as follows: Imports therefrom $3,493,000, of which all but $464,000 were entered for consumption in France; exports to Réunion, $2,435,000, of which French goods constituted $1,764,000, the remainder being composed of foreign goods shipped via France.
The principalimports into France from Réunion were, sugar, $2,624,000; vanilla, $490,000.
The articles of export from France to Réunion, in the order of their values, were as follows during the year 1880: Wines, metal `tools and utensils, leather manufactures, cotton manufactures, mercery, iron, wrought and un wrought, machinery, fish, woolen goods, grease of all sorts, soaps, wood, common, millstones, paper of all sorts, pottery and glassware, linen and canvas goods, brandy and spirits, jewelry, oils, fixed, clothing, toys, medicines, salted meats, &c.
The British consul at Réunion, in a report dated August 25, 1881, says-notwithstanding the rather despondent view he takes of British trade with the island—that an English company in England is projecting a monthly service of steamers, under the British flag, to connect Mauritius and Réunion with Europe, and to alternate with the steamers of Messageries Maritimes, which will give fortnightly communication with Europe, and, he might have reasonably added, help to introduce and enlarge British trade as much as the field of operations will permit.
RÉSUME OF AFRICAN COMMERCE.
In the preceding pages the details of the foreign trade of Africa hare been given, showing the nature and extent thereof, by states, possessions, and islands. This résumé is an analytical review of the various phases of the trade of Africa, with statement showing the foreign commerce of the continent, first by countries and colonies, and next by the principal articles of import and export, together with the direct trade of Great Britain, France, and the United States therewith; thus giving our manufacturers and exporters as complete a statistical diagram of this important field of commerce as it is possible to give in a review necessarily as limited as an introductory letter must be.
RÉSUMÉ OF AFRICAN TRADE.
The total commerce of Africa, according to the closest estimates, based upon official and other returns, may be set down as follows: Im