File No. 763.72112/1364

The Consul General at London ( Skinner ) to the Secretary of State

No. 592]

Sir: Referring to the Department’s cabled instruction of June 28 and my reply of June 29,1 I have the honor to call particular attention to my monthly trade report which is annexed hereto, in triplicate. In this report will be found: (1) Some very interesting figures showing the great increase in exports from this country in certain lines;2 and (2) a full list of the ships detained at Kirkwall from March 11 to June 17, together with the period of detention in each case.3

I have [etc.]

Robert P. Skinner

Monthly trade report by the Consul General at London, July 8, 1915

The following figures taken from official British trade returns covering the first half of 1915 and 1914, illustrate very clearly the practical effect of war legislation upon foreign trade, and especially foreign trade in which the United States is interested. It will be perceived that while the articles under report cannot be shipped from the United States to neutral European countries without being stopped and rendered liable to condemnation, these same articles are being exported from Great Britain itself in enormously increased quantities. Especial attention is directed to the items of copper, cotton goods, raw cotton, petroleum, and wool. Perhaps in no commodity of trade has the British rule been more vexatious than in that of wool. Exports of raw wool to the United States have been refused usually, except in such cases when it could be shown that manufactured woolen goods for the armed forces would be returned in exchange, and in equivalent quantities. But while raw wool was being refused on the ground of military necessity, Great Britain found it entirely possible to export to the United States well over half her usual quantity of manufactured woolens and more than the usual quantity of carpets.

The British explanation of these singular facts is that the exports are in some degree controlled by the various committees which authorize the granting of licenses to export, and that only importers of known standing are favored, who can be counted upon not to sell to enemy countries. The explanation would have some force if the quantities exported were normal, but inasmuch as they are wholly abnormal, and as the ease with which the exports from Great Britain are made is a matter of common knowledge, it is quite evident that measures designed to protect the military situation are being [Page 480] utilized to protect and extend British foreign trade at the expense of other countries. A most curious fact revealed in the figures is the existence of a decreased but fairly substantial amount of trade with Turkey.

  1. Ante, p. 455.
  2. Only the introductory paragraphs of the report are here printed. The statistical portions of part (1) are printed, in rearranged order and under the erroneous date of June 15, in Commerce Reports (pub. by Department of Commerce), 1915, No. 180, vol. 3, p. 572.
  3. See post, p. 594.