Mr. Hanna to Mr. Blaine.

No. 229.]

Sir: I have the honor to send herewith in duplicate, an editorial published last Sunday in the Buenos Ayres Standard, the valuable paper owned by Mr. M. G. Mulhall, the Argentine statistician, and author of “Mulhall’s Hand-Book of the River Platte.” He takes his reckonings from some tables just furnished by Mr. Latzina, chief of the bureau of statistics, and very high authority on such matters.

These tables seem important in several respects, especially as showing the vast volume of trade steadily going to European markets, which should and could be more largely shared by the United States if some method were devised to establish and maintain adequate and rapid steam-ship communication between the United States and this country.

These figures are also important from the fact that they show a vast Argentine exportation of corn and wheat to European markets, a very serious question in connection with farming industry in the United States.

While Mr. Mulhall, in the inclosure following, discusses only that portion of Mr. Latzina’s tables relative to England, those given of the trade of Germany, Italy, France, and Belgium, are fully as significant and worthy of the attention of the United States.

I am, etc.,

Bayless W. Hanna.
[Inclosure in No. 229.]

mr. mulhall’s letter.

Trade with Great Britain.

Mr. Latzina’s tables of Argentine trade are so admirably arranged that you can see at a glance the whole working of commerce in the last ten years. Take, for example, the dealings with Great Britain, 1878–’87:

Imports from Great Britain $247,000,000
Exports to Great Britain 78,000,000
Surplus imports 169,000,000

Those people who believe in the balance of trade will weep at the idea that since 1878 Great Britain has extracted a sum equal to £34,000,000 from the Argentine Republic. As a matter of fact it is quite the other way, the Argentina having extracted from John Bull a sum twice as great. It may be said that the influx of British capital has been in the form of loans, still more aggravating the burthen on the public and the drain of its resources. Any discussion on such points is futile. Suffice it to say that in ten years Great Britain has poured into the Republic about $250,000,000 worth of merchandise and a still larger amount of capital in loans, railways, land purchases, etc. If you would go back to the old balance-of-trade theory you must abandon all the features and elements of progress.

The imports in 1887 from the United Kingdom were so numerous that it is not easy to sum them up for our readers. They comprise 360 items, and I wish Mr. Latzina would improve his trade report in this respect by putting an additional page for each country with a summary under ten or twelve heads of the principal branches.

First, we have 960 prize cattle of all descriptions, valued at $200,000. Then come articles of grocery, $1,700,000; dry goods amounting to $14,000,000; chemicals, [Page 5] $900,000; hardware and machinery, $10,000,000; coal, $4,000,000; and sundries, $4,000,000; making in all $35,000,000. Under the head of hardware is included railway material, not quite $3,000,000 in amount. The importation of coal was nearly 400,000 tons. In the whole list of 360 items I find only cheese, salt, and sugar which could be produced as easily in the Argentine Republic as imported. I may also add soap. These items are, however, so small as hardly to deserve notice. On the other hand, three items, viz, dry goods, iron and coal, stand for $28,000,000 or 80 per cent. of the total, sufficient evidence of the extremely useful nature of the components of British trade.

The exports to Great Britain are few, but sum up a value of $17,000,000, or half that of the articles imported; they are, briefly, as follows:

Articles. Tons. Value.
Grain 320,000 $9,400,000
Linseed 63,000 3,200,000
Meat 14,000 1,200,000
Hides, skins, and wool 2,400,000
Sundries 900,000
Total 17,100,000

Grain stands for more than half, which is surprising, since Great Britain can draw supplies so easily from India and the United States, from Russia, Austria, and elsewhere. The item of meat includes 10,000 tons of frozen mutton, the rest being jerked beef. As a proof of the great development of trade with Great Britain the exports thither in 1887 were live times what they were in 1878–79. This branch of trade must rapidly increase as the frozen mutton business expands. Meantime it is gratifying to see that small as is the number of British and Irish residents the trade relations of the republic with the United Kingdom are greater than with any other nation.

The minor ports of the Parana have risen 160 per cent., those of the Uruguay only 18 per cent. All the Parana ports show au increase, except Corrientes, whereas the Uruguay shows a heavy fall at Concepcion and a lesser one at Gualeguay.

In the second place, as regards nations we find the gross trade exchanged with them was as follows:

1878. 1887. Increase.
Per cent.
United Kingdom $15,520,000 $51,860,000 234
France 18,690,000 47,610,000 155
Germany 3,230,000 21,940,000 580
Belgium 12,380,000 23,060,000 80
United States 5,500,000 16,940,000 205
Italy 3,440,000 10,140,000 200
Spain 3,380,000 6,330,000 90
Brazil 4,010,000 4,360,000 6
Uruguay 3,070,000 8,870,000 190
Chili 2,660,000 1,160,000
Paraguay 980,000 1,730,000 75
Bolivia 290,000 250,000
Various 8,130,000 7,520,000
Total 81,280,000 201,770,000 150

Ten years ago Great Britain held second place, the first being held by France, hut the positions are reversed. The increase of trade with Germany is marvelous, that with Italy and United States is also most satisfactory. Meantime we can not fail to deplore the rapid decline of international relations in South America, caused by the jealous and mischievous tariffs which the Argentine Republic, Brazil, Chili, etc., are erecting against one another, to depress each other’s commerce. They seem to have an insane delight in doing harm to one another. Much better would it he if all nations on the South American continent were to form a Zollverein, allowing the free interchange of commodities and agreeing to impose a uniform tax of 10 or 20 per cent, on all merchandise coming from any other part of the world. The war of tariffs that is at present waged is a scandal and a source of weakness to South American nations.

[Page 6]

It may be said that in spite of these tariffs the trade of the Argentine Republic has increased 150 per cent., which is quite true. But who will venture to say what might have been the increase but for the tariffs? Ten years ago it was predicted that as soon as the Tucuman Railway should be pushed further north all the commerce of Bolivia would flow into the Argentine Republic. The result has been just the reverse, the trade with that country having fallen 15 per cent, since 1878. Still worse is the case with Chili, the trade with that republic having declined 60 per cent. These are facts that can not escape the notice of the new Finance Minister at Buenos Ayres, who is perhaps as convinced as myself of the value of free trade and the evil consequences that are inseparable from protection.

M. G. M.