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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

Present Position

Present Position.

Trade.—A sketch of the present position of the trade of New Zealand is practically a recapitulation of the statements already made; so, instead of re-producing them here, I have prepared a series of tables and diagrams (Appendices 2 to 4) shewing the leading facts and figures. A few points brought out by them are worthy of remark.

Taking the whole trade for the last 15 years, it is found that the imports generally exceed the exports by from 20 to 35 per cent., the only exceptions being in 1870, 1871, 1872, and 1880, when there was a balance on the other side of from £47,714 to £1,203,891. The greatest difference was in 1863 and 1864, the goldfields years, when the imports exceeded the exports by £3,539,269 and £3,598,988, more than double; and again in 1874 and 1878, when the figures were £2,870,543 and £2,739,963. Deducting Public Works Plant, which is an extraordinary import, and specie, which is in the nature of a cash payment, we find that the imports and exports approach much closer; and the same relative position is maintained, but with lower figures, when a comparison is made between imports retained in the Colony and exports, the produce of the Colony, which is the true test of our productive- page 27 ness and ability to support ourselves. On this basis the difference between the exports and imports has only averaged £730,000 for the last 15 years.

At present about 21 per cent, of our imports are eatables and drinkables, and 38 per cent, clothing and household requisites. Of the exports 71 per cent, are pastoral and agricultural products, and 14 per cent, come from the mines.

The diagrams show extraordinary fluctuations in the import trade. Leaving out the goldfields years, when it went up £5,476,341 in a single bound, which is easily accounted for, there have since then been several ups and downs—the rise from 1871 to 1874 was £4,043,619, and the fall from 1878 to 1880, £2,593,652. I suppose these fluctuations are attributable to "over-importing," the cause, according to popular tradition, of all the ills to which commercial New Zealand is subject. The export trade, on the other hand, is remarkably steady. Since the first jump up in the goldfields years the fluctuations on either side of the average line have only once reached £500,000.

Interchange.—About 75 per cent, of the trade of New Zealand is with the United Kingdom, and, as might be expected, there is more reciprocity between her and the mother country than in any other case. During the last ten years we have—at the value in the Colony of both exports and imports—sent £94 worth of goods to England for every £100 worth we get back. But if the value of each is taken in the country that produces it the balance is on the other side, for we have sent £94 worth for every £91 worth sent us. The English portion is, to all intents and purposes, a reflex of the whole trade of the Colony; practically the fluctuations just referred to are all borne by it.

Our next largest transactions are with Victoria, which gets upwards of 15 per cent, of our trade; but in page 28 this case there is the minimum amount of reciprocity. Leaving out gold, which is practically cash, the Victorians have for the last 10 years only bought £15 worth of our wares for every £100 worth we bought from them. Furthermore, they do not sell us their own products, they merely act as agents in transmitting the wares of other countries.

The trade with New South Wales is less than half that with Victoria, but there is more interchange of commodities.

For eight out of the last ten years our imports from Tasmania have ranged from £100,384 to £148,843, and for nine out of the same ten years our exports thereto have only ranged from £1,334 to £7,945.

The trade with Western Australia and Mauritius is almost one sided; but in all other cases there is a fair amount of reciprocity.

Home Industries.—The only way to get a general idea of the extent of our home industries is to summarise the occupations of the producers and makers in the population, the total of which, according to the return of 1881, is 136,446:—
Persons engaged in agricultural and pastoral pursuits 54,447
Persons engaged in mechanical pursuits 17,602
Persons working and dealing in textile fabrics 11,930
Persons working and dealing in food and drink 7,063
Persons working and dealing in animal and vegetable substances 4,872
Persons working and dealing in minerals 22,710
Undefined labour 17,822
Total 136,446