Mr. Cramer to Mr. Evarts.
Copenhagen , October 31, 1877. (Received November 2.1.)
Sir: Referring to the Department’s dispatch of the 7th of August last, marked “Separate,” relating to the question of methods by which the trade of the different nations with the United States may be most judiciously fostered and enlarged, and instructing me by examination and inquiry to enable myself to point out branches of trade with Denmark in which the United States may profitably and usefully share, I have now the honor, after having thus far devoted considerable time and attention to the examination of this question, to communicate to you the following statements and observations as some of the results arrived at.
This subject will, however, receive still further attention from me.
i.—obstacles in the way of an enlargement of the commerce between the united states and denmark.
- Denmark proper is situated in the northern part of Europe, between 53° and 58° north latitude, and 7° and 13° east longitude, and consists of the peninsula of Jutland, the islands of Sealand, Fuenen, Laaland, Langeland, Falster, Möen, Samsoe, Bornholm, and other smaller ones, having a total population of about 1,874,000 inhabitants. It is therefore evident that the smallness of the kingdom and the nature of its territory, form no small obstacles in the way of the development of an extensive commerce between it and the United States.
- The utter lack of a regular line of steamships or sailing vessels between the United States and Denmark, greatly retards trade and commerce between the two countries.
- Denmark is not much of a manufacturing country. The raw materials for the comparatively few factories it possesses are either produced at home or imported from England, France, Germany, and Sweden. So, too, are most of the different manufactured articles in use. [Page 34] The prices of the different kinds of raw material in the manufacturing districts of these countries being nearly, if not quite, as low as, and labor cheaper, than in the United States, and the cost of transportation from the former countries far less than from the latter, it becomes evident that comparatively few manufactured articles from the United States can find a profitable market in Denmark. Besides, the Danes are slow in introducing innovations, they being generally satisfied with articles manufactured in their own country, so far as they reach, and if they possess a special sympathy for any foreign country and special predilections for foreign articles, it is for France and French articles.
- Denmark is principally an agricultural country. Besides the ordinary garden vegetables, its agricultural products are principally wheat, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, peas, beans, potatoes, beets, hay, &c. A large quantity of these products, together with cattle, sheep, hogs, poultry, &c., are exported to England and Germany, thus showing that of these articles more than enough are raised for home consumption, and that Denmark furnishes no market for American breadstuffs. Corn and corn-meal form, perhaps, the only exceptions.
- With the exception of salt, chalk, freestone, pottery, and porcelain clays, no other mineral products of any great value are found in Denmark. Nor are any metals found. Iron and steel and manufactured articles thereof are imported from Sweden and England. The former country being so near to Denmark, and producing large quantities of these metals, both raw and wrought, supplies almost the entire Danish market therewith, in these articles, therefore, the United States cannot successfully compete with Sweden and England in the Danish market, on account, principally, of the greater distance and consequent increase in the cost of transportation.
- The same is pretty much true of coal. Almost all, if not all, the coal consumed in Denmark is imported from England. Sweden produces little or none; hence none can be derived from that country. The prices of coal of good quality in Newcastle, England, and in Baltimore and New York are now nearly, if not entirely, equal. There can be no doubt that at no distant day the price of American coal will be lower than that of English coal. The difficulty, however, of supplying the Danish market with American coal lies chiefly in the distance and the consequent increase of the cost of transportation.
If American sailing-vessels receiving coal either at Baltimore or New York directly from the railway-cars and carrying it directly to Denmark, could find a return cargo, or if European vessels in the ports of Baltimore or New York finding no cargo would carry coal, instead of ballast, the experiment might be made of supplying the Danish market with American coal.
I have been informed that already a large amount of the coal-trade from Cardiff and Liverpool to the East and West Indies and South America has been transferred to Baltimore as the result of a large advance in the price of coal in England, and a continued and heavy increase of foreign export of coal is looked for by parties in Baltimore. I would suggest that one or more American coal-companies that have sufficient capacity and facilities for economically shipping coal to the seaboard—such as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, or railroad companies whose roads terminate in Jersey City—take this subject into consideration, and send an agent to this city for the purpose of maturing a plan by which the Danish market may be supplied with American coal.[Page 35]
ii.—suggestions as to the methods by which the trade between the united states and denmark may be enlarged.
1. As regards the coal-trade I have already suggested a method. As regards the methods for enlarging the trade and commerce between the United States and Denmark in other articles, the following suggestions are offered:
2. The establishment of a monthly or semi-monthly line of steamers or sailing-vessels appears to me to be an indispensable condition for the development and enlargement of the trade and commerce between the United States and Denmark. This line might also embrace the ports of the southern and southeastern coasts of the Baltic Sea, as well as those in the west and south of Sweden. There can be no doubt that the existence of such a line connected with a proper amount of commercial enterprise on the part of some American merchants, would tend to largely increase the trade and commerce between the United States and Denmark and the districts along the Baltic coasts in which the ports just mentioned are situated. The import into Denmark and these districts, of American articles of merchandise not produced there, would thereby be greatly facilitated and cheapened.
3. Another method for developing and enlarging the trade and commerce between the United States and Denmark is, in my opinion, the establishment, say, at Copenhagen, of a central depot, managed by capable, enterprising, and trustworthy parties, where a supply is kept on hand not only of such articles as are now imported from the United States, but also of such other articles as are largely consumed but not produced in Denmark.
Some of the principal articles imported from the United States are: 1, petroleum; 2, corn (maize); 3, lard; 4, bacon; 5, butter and cheese; 6, agricultural and other machines. During the year 1876 there were imported from the United States of petroleum, 40,000 barrels, valued at 1,600,000 Danish crowns (about $432,000, gold); of corn (maize), 230,000 tönder (about 920,000 bushels), valued at 3,680,000 crowns (about $993,600, gold); of lard, 7,000 barrels, valued at 910,000 crowns (about $245,700, gold); of bacon, 3,000 boxes, valued at 540,000 crowns ($145,800, gold).
The statistics of the quantity and value of butter and cheese and of the number and value of agricultural and other machines imported from the United States I have not been able to obtain. American cheese is here well liked and much sought after. The quality of the butter imported from the United States, however, is not as good as that of the Danish butter, though it has commenced to be a rival of the latter. Danish butter has a good reputation all over the world; and if our American dairymen understood the secret of preparing and packing butter for export as well as the Danish dairymen, they would be able to command not only the Danish butter market, but that of almost every other country. Why cannot a number of persons be sent here for the purpose of learning that secret by practice, or, rather, why not send for a number of Danish experts in this branch to teach American dairymen that secret? The increased expenses incurred thereby would in the end be far more than counterbalanced by the increased butter export and the profits yielded by it.
4. By a little more enterprise the importation of cheese from the United States could also be increased. The same is true of agricultural implements and machines, sewing and knitting machines, mechanics tools and instruments, leather, cotton, and linen goods, tobacco in leaves, sugar, refined and unrefined, sirup and molasses, &c. I would suggest [Page 36] that the producers and manufacturers of these various articles in the United States employ an enterprising and trustworthy agent whose business it should be to study the prices of and import duty on the articles mentioned, and, being supplied with a sufficient number of samples, to travel throughout the country for the purpose of procuring orders therefor.
I have, &c.,