Mr. Dichman to Mr. Evarts.
Bogota, November 16, 1878. (Received December 31.)
Sir: In connection with my No. 18 I beg to submit to the Department the inclosed copy of a letter (and translation) from the Hon. Salvador Camacho Roldan, in answer to certain inquiries made by me on the subject of the revenue of Colombia, and the amount of export and import trade. From the figures therein presented the Department will be able to obtain a general view of the movements of trade in this country. In connection therewith I would respectfully call attention to the following.
The population of Colombia is estimated at about 3,500,000, (as soon as I shall be able to obtain the exact figures upon this subject I shall communicate them). Assuming this as a basis, it is seen that the amount of taxation, or revenue per capita for national purposes, is only about $1.20 per annum. The taxation for state purposes varies, but 1 am informed is equally light.
The amount of produce exported annually is only about $3.44 per capita, and the amount of imports per capita is only about $2.86 per annum.
It will also be seen that cotton goods form the leading article, if not the bulk, of the importations, and that any steps which will give to the American manufacturer the exclusive control of this market for cotton goods, will as a necessary consequence, bring to the United States the purchase of all other articles imported into this country.
In the items of revenue, if it is necessary to explain, that the income from the post-office and telegraph is the gross income, and that the expenses of conducting both these branches of the public service exceed the amount of the revenues derived from them.
From the rent or subsidy paid by the Panama Railroad Company the sum of $25,000 is paid annually to the state of Panama.
The inquiry upon the subject of the quantity of tobacco exported to the United States prior to 1860, was for the purpose of being able to lay before the Department the information as to the largest amount which had ever been exported to the United States under a low rate of duty, and otherwise the most favorable circumstances.
While the figures herein submitted are official, I would respectfully suggest that they be examined in connection with the reports of Mr. E. P. Pellet, our consul in Barranquilla, who is very exact in his information, and who, from his position at the principal seaport of this republic, will be able to give correct accounts of at least eight-tenths of the foreign trade of this country. It will readily be seen by the Department, from the figures herein submitted, that considering the area and situation of this republic, its great extent of sea coast, the fertility of its soil, and the wealth of its mineral resources, the amount of its revenue and foreign commerce is very small.
While in some respects the reasons for this are found in the influences of a tropical climate, yet the chief cause of this lack of material development is without doubt the insecurity which attaches to property on account of the instability of the government.
I am, &c.,