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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

Extension of Trade And Commerce: a paper read ... before the Conference of New Zealand Chambers of Commerce, at Wellington, on 6th February, 1902

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Extension of Trade And Commerce.

Wellington, New Zealand: Printed by the New Zealand Times Company, Limited. 1902.

Extension of Trade and Commerce.

Paper Read by Mr John Holmes at the Chambers of Commerce Conference.

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An interesting address on the "Extents of Trade and Commerce" was read by Mr John Holmes before the Conference of Chambers of Commerce last week, as follows:—

In accepting the responsible task of stealing in a short paper with such an important subject as the Expansion of our Trade and Commerce, I am reminded of Bancroft's words, when he says, "Commerce defies every wind, outrides every tempest, and invades every zone." I therefore approach the subject with considerable hesitation, knowing how inadequate my efforts will be to do justice to it.

We meet to-day under the gloom of a great and terrible war still raging in south Africa. Its continuance and uncertainty must be matters of the gravest concern to our Imperial statesmen, as well as to every Government in his Majesty's possessions beyond the seas, There are none less anxious to see a greedy and satisfactory termination of this bloody conflict than the people of this colony, who, through the Right Hon. B. J. Seddon, have shown to Britain and the world at large that their sympathies are not mere idle words, but deeds of section What more striking illustration of the bond of true sympathy could be found than in the ready and magnificent response to the Empire's call as exhibited by Canada, Australia and New Zealand. When the history of this struggle comes to be written, and future orators speak with powerful eloquence upon the present crisis, they will all bear testimony to the fact that not only did the blood of England, of Ireland and of Scotland, but also that of the colonies, flow in the same battlefields to uphold the right and give freedom to Britain's sons in South Africa. From this, the most distant of his Majesty's dominions, we have just sent forward the Surrey with 500 men, and the balance will, within a few days, complete the 8th Contingent of over 1000 strong. This is already supplemented by a further 1000 men now in readiness to embark for the 9th Contingent, reprinting a total of over 5000 officers and men, with nearly 6000 horses, which New Zealand has, from its limited population, contributed to the South African campaign. Who, therefore, can deny that this colony has done its share to uphold the Empire?

This is neither the time nor the place to express any opinion as to the causes which led to the great sacrifices of human page 2 life and suffering, but there can be no doubt that England did everything that was possible to avert the disaster. We were forced into the conflict, and true to our British instincts, we are now standing shoulder to shoulder to maintain that freedom of government which is always to be found in every clime wherever the Union Jack is supreme.

In dealing with the question of the extension of our Trade and Commerce, which we are to-day considering, I have first of all to congratulate the council of this Chamber upon the excellence of its arrangements in the varied and interesting subjects tabled for discussion, the ventilation of which in a true and friendly spirit, cannot fail to be of great and permanent benefit to this colony.

Extension of Trade and Commerce.

I am one of those who believe that there are few questions of greater importance to the well being of any country than the development of its natural resources and the consequent extension of its trade and commerce. Agriculture and commerce are inseparably linked together. The prosperity of the one means the success of the other, and the adversity of the one means the depression of the other. It, therefore, behoves us to help forward the genera] movement which is now occupying the close attention of the Government of this colony, to whom we are largely indebted for the prosperity which we have long enjoyed in New Zealand.

We have many things contributing to our wealth and happiness, for which we ought to be thankful. We possess a beautiful climate, rich and fertile country of 104,000 square miles, regular rainfall, numerous rivers, a land which nature has richly endowed, free from droughts or disappointments, 2300 miles of railway, connecting the main land with the seaboard, good bridges, excellent roads, and 7249 miles of telegraph and also telephone communication, and in fact every facility that the people of so young a country could reasonably expect.

Surrounded by the ocean with a coastline of 4330 miles, and exceptional harbour facilities from the Bluff in the South to Auckland in the North, all combine to give us easy access to the markets of the world. Our distance of 12,000 miles from the manufacturing centres of Britain is perhaps the chief barrier that blocks our way to greater progress.

While saying this, however, I must not be understood to mean that we have reached the haven of our prosperity, and that nothing more is to be done. On the contrary I am of opinion that one of the many reasons which should increase our activity and vigilance is the fact that compared with other countries, we are the most distant from the great consuming population of the Old World. The old saying "Out of sight out of mind" may be applied to commerce as well as to individuals. The success attending our friendly American cousins in marketing their produce and manufactures is largely due to the enterprise they display in their endeavours to capture the markets of other countries, and their readiness to comply with the altered requirements.

They are always in evidence, constants pushing their goods, an important factor in permanently establishing an export trade. Emulating the people of the United States are to be found our Canadian friends, who exhibit that rare combination of talents which might best be described as having all the vivacity of the French, the solidity of the English and the enterprise of the American.

During my visit to Europe as New Zealand Trade Commissioner in 1897-1898, I was struck with the very great effort! continually put forward by Canadians in directing the attention of the British people to the resources of Canada.

Thousands of specially prepared and beautifully illustrated pamphlets, setting forth the many advantages of the coun- page 3 try, are constantly being distributed throughout the United Kingdom. Indeed no opportunity is lost to advertise the country and its products.

Evidence of this I saw everywhere. In England at the Agricultural Shows, Canada was in evidence. At the Healtheries Exhibition in Dublin in 1898, Canada was well represented, distributing literature to attract people to her shores, and exhibiting samples of the various products of that great country, with a view to widening the outlets for her exporters.

That we may have a fuller appreciate of the necessity for extended markets for our produce, I have pleasure in subjoining a detailed list showing the growth of our exports during 1890, 1895 and 1900.

1890. 1895. 1900.
£ £ £
Wool 4,150,599 3,662,131 4,749,196
Gold 751,360 1,162,181 1,439,602
Frozen Meat 1,087,617 1,262,711 2,123,881
Butter and Cheese 207,687 378,510 969,731
Agricultural Products 1,289,864 326,029 1,230,565
Manufactures 547,947 188,702 549,342
Other N.Z. Produce 1,393,687 1,409,889 1,992,932
Totals 9,428,761 8,390,153 13,055,249

Note.—The most important items of exports given under the heading of "Other New Zealand Produce," are coal, silver, [unclear: minerals], fish, oysters, fungus, kauri [unclear: n] to, timber, bacon and hams, salted and preserved meats, tallow, sheep and rabbit [unclear: skins], hides, sausage skins and live stock, and during the year 1901 the dairy produce has further increased.

Cwt. £
Butter 204,360 901,774
Cheese 101,010 231,661
Total 305,370 £1,133,435

Showing an increase in butter and cheese since 1900 of over £6163,704.

The bulk of these shipments are consigned to London, as will be seen by the following table:—
New Zealand. Values of exports for 1900. £ Proportion.
To United Kingdom 10,259,342 77.45
To Australasia 1,858,582 14.03
To other British Possessions 474.198 3.58
To United States 458,796 3.46
To other Foreign parts 195,243 1.48
Total £13,246,161 100.00

It is instructive to read a similar return from our neighbouring colonies.

Victoria. Exports 1900. £ Proportion.
To United Kingdom 6,363,685 36.53
To Australasia 5,694,510 32.69
To other British Possessions 3,303,708 18.95
To United States 120,138 0.69
To other Foreign parts 1,940,511 11.14
Total £17,422,552 100.00
New South Wales. Exports 1900. £ Proportion.
To United Kingdom 8,273,272 29.38
To Australasia 10,805,876 38.37
To other British Possessions 1,488,235 5.28
To United States 3,981,242 14.13
To other Foreign parts 3,615,891 12.84
Total £228,164,516 100.00
The largely increased export of dairy produce from New Zealand has done immense good to the small farmers. One illustration will suffice to show the great improvement in the North Island. I would specially direct attention to the following valuation of the New Plymouth Harbour rating district:—
1890 £1,997,230
1895 £2,961,186
1900 £6,397,090
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Growing Industries.

With the development of our dairy industry, our exports in fresh pork, bacon, hams and lard are expanding and promise to be a very profitable addition to the dairy farmers' annual revenue.

The poultry industry is also steadily growing in favour. Mr Hyde, the expert, is devoting all his energy, ability and special knowledge in assisting to establish poultry farms all through the country. With cheaper ferights and a better knowledge of the requirements of the Home and South African markets, the trade in frozen poultry must steadily increase.

Fruit and Vine Culture.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman, largely interested in the export of Australian wines. He assured me that for certain classes of wine, such as claret and champagne, the North Island should be able to successfully compete against any country in the world.

This information has been confirmed by Mr T. W. Kirk, the Government Biologist, who has, by persistent effort and illustration, shown to many settlers how profitable fruit and vine culture is.

There were 23,956 acres in orchard in 1900, a increase of 1330 acres on the previous year. No record is taken of less than a quarter of an acre, of these there are thousands, 522 acres are Under vine cultivation, and this is yearly increasing. It is confidently expected that within a few years the wine manufactured in New Zealand will form part of our staple exports.

While directing attention to the advantages, nay, even the necessity for new markets I think that in our eagerness to seek fresh fields we are apt to lose sight of the fact that there is yet plenty of work in Britain.

Judging from the various discussions which from time to time have taken place the impression seems to gain ground that because we have long enjoyed the advantages of an excellent direct steam service to London, we have exploited all the markets of Great Britain and must of necessity look to such countries as South Africa, India, China i and Japan, in which to place our increasing exports from this colony.

Having an established direct trade with London, which can with advantage and little expense be further extended to the provinces, I would direct your attention to the fact that the total population of the United Kingdom is in round number 38,000,000. In 1840 the total population was 26½ millions, hence in less than 62 years the population has increased about 11,500,000, or more than the present population of Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined.

Not only the population, but the wealth also is great, and the conditions of the great masses of the people are much improved. To Great Britain, therefore we must look for our permanent market; and anything that can be done by the Government of New Zealand to extend our trade with the English provinces, Scotland and Ireland, should have the support and approval of every producer and merchant in this colony.

While in England in 1898, I took the opportunity of publicly urging the claims of New Zealand and suggested, inter alia, that the guardians of the large Charitable Institutions of Britain might with advantage include New Zealand from meat when calling tenders for meat Supplies. The result of that recommendation was that subsequently a large meat contractor in one of the chief cities of England called upon me, stating that my recommendation had borne fruit, and that tenders were being called by one large institution for meat supplies, in which was included "Canterbury mutton." He asked me, "Is that New Zealand mutton?" (Another illustration of the advantages of establishing a good name). Having replied in the affirmative, I immediately gave him all the information I could, supplying him with the page 5 names of every freezing company and experter in this colony, and also the names of the principal importers at Smithfield. It is very instructive to read his letter dated 9th January, 1899. It runs as [unclear: followers]:—

"You will remember when you visited England I met you at your hotel, I and we had a conversation on the New Zealand mutton trade, I specially mentioned that I had frequently tendered for the supply of Canterbury mutton, but had not been successful, and was just about to tender again to the firm that had previously rejected me. I did so, but was not accepted; another firm got the contract for Canterbury mutton. I was determined to watch their deliveries, and I discovered that the mutton was none other than River Plate. At the expiration of the contract I privately exposed the fraud to the receivers and the result was that when the contract was re-let they debarred this firm from competing. I tendered again, but was unsuccessful, another firm having preference to supply Canterbury mutton at 3¼d per lb. I have also watched this, and I am surprised that the so-called Canterbury is nothing but River Plate, with false labels and wrappers stamped "Canterbury." Of course I am not in a position to prove this, and I appeal to you to put me in the way of discovering the genuine brand and give me some information respecting it. I am sure this cannot fail to interest you, as it will give you some idea to what extent this fraud is carried on in this corner of the globe. You will observe that I have not been idle since we parted, and I hope that before long I shall have the pleasure of supplying some of the consumers of River Plate with the genuine article."

Let me here remark this is the testimony of an English meat salesman. I might multiply these instances of my experience as New Zealand Trade Commissioner, but I content myself with adding a recent letter dated 29th October, 1901, from Scotland relative to our dairy produce trade. This is from a gentleman upon whom I called while visiting Scotland. I would specially direct your attention to the great prejudice of Scotch houses to do business through London, and the objection to opening credits. The letter reads as follows:—

As you know, I do a very large business in butter, and am much interested in it from all quarters. I have during the last three years been the pioneer of the Siberian trade, which has made astonishing progress both as to quality and quantity exported. As I told you when here, New Zealand butter is much liked here, but as your exporters only consign to London houses it is to a large extent boycotted here. We large importers here will not do business if we can help it with second hand people. We must import our own goods, and until you do that we will supply our customers with Finnish, Russian and Canadian butters, which come direct to us. We, or let me speak for myself, but I know all others agree with me, will not open credits in New Zealand. The shippers must draw on us direct at sixty days' sight, against B/L and insurance policy in such a way as we are accustomed to."

I am of opinion that every effort should be made to bring New Zealand into closer trade relations with such markets as Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Belfast, Edinburgh and Dublin, even to the extent of subsidising a line of steamers that would include these ports of call in their round trip from this colony. You have only to visit the Manchester Ship Canal to see what enterprise is there displayed to secure direct trade. Already over £17,000,000 have been spent on that magnificent waterway, £5,000,000 of which have been provided by the corporation of the city, who recognise the immense page 6 advantage the Ship Canal is to Manchester. During my visit to that city in 1898, the Lord Mayor (Alderman Gibson) and the Chairman of the Ship Canal Company (Mr J. K. Blythel), with several leading citizens assured me that there were nearly 8,000,000 of a population surrounding the Lancashire district who could be best served by direct trade with the Canal, and furthermore added that every facility would be extended to and minimum rates charged upon any steamers trading from New Zealand.

The accomplishment of this is not as difficult as it appears at first sight. Upon further investigation I found the majority of the Bradford Woollen Mills and other importers of New Zealand produce were anxious to secure their New Zealand purchases via the Ship Canal in preference to London.

In view of the yearly increase of our wool sales in this colony, as blown by the following figures:—
1892 to 1893 74,985 bales
1895 to 1896 82,159 bales
1899 to 1900 101,729 bales

and bearing in mind that Yorkshire houses are perhaps the largest buyers, I see no reason why with such a nucleus of assured freight, direct trade with Manchester has been so long delayed. It may be contended that the present steamers are too large, but surely this should not be an insurmountable difficulty. The advantages of direct trade with 8,000,000 of consumers cannot be over-estimated, and is worthy of our best consideration.

To insure for this colony the best representation in the British markets, I would respectfully suggest the advisableness of giving extended powers to the AgentGeneral, who has already done signal service for New Zealand, or separating the political from the commercial representation in London, establishing an office in the city under a qualified commercial trade commissioner, with power to appoint agents in the provinces, who could supply general information. This latter plan has been adopted by Canada, while the former has been worked successfully by our Victorian neighbours. The resident commissioner and his staff would, with advantage, arrange periodical conferences with the various boards of trade and chambers of commerce to whom he could supply the fullest and most reliable information as to the names of the shippers, values of produce, rates of freights, also help to overcome the many prejudices that at present exist against New Zealand product and correct wrong impressions as to the conduct of the export business. While disseminating useful information he would also be gathering valuable data for the guidance of the mercantile community in New Zealand which would repay the outlay.

Mr H. C. Cameron, the present Produce Commissioner in London, has done his utmost to place New Zealand produce in the fore front, but the time has arrived when with more assistance and greater freedom he could render better service to the colony. The adoption of the plan I propose would accomplish this. While advocating closer investigation of the British markets, I also think every effort should be made to establish our name as exporters in the other countries referred to.

It must be as gratifying to every character of commerce in this colony as it is to this conference that the Government is taking such active steps to bring us into closer and more direct communication with South Africa, Ever watchful of New Zealand's intersts, the present administration, under the able guidance off the Right Hon. the Premier, has from time to time during the last three years, seized the psychological moment in proclaiming to the world at large that New Zealand is not the least amongst his Majesty's possessions, willing to share the sorrows as well as the joys of the Empire. Who among us can appraise the enormous advantages that such statesmanship, judgement and diplomacy will have upon the commerce of this country in the future page 7 Those of us who have been fortunate entail to travel the outer world can realise how little known New Zealand was, and far isolated seemed our position. Thanks to the Government these difficulty are now removed, and when we shall add another line of steamers, for which tenders are now called, to help us in establishing direct trade with South Africa, we shall become better known, and shall come to look upon the Federal Tariff of the Commonwealth as a great blessing in disguise, for it has undoubtedly accelerated the necessity for the steps now being taken to open up trade with other countries, which in the ordinary course of events we could not have existed for some time to come. If our bolding aloof for the present from Federation has done no other good it has certify been instrumental in directing our attention to the necessity of new markets.

Trade With Japan.

My long connection with and interest a the New Zealand fibre trade suggested in me the desirableness of sending, some years ago, several samples of our "phormium tenax" to Japan. The report was far from encouraging. No hope was held out for future sales, and the gloomiest future was prophesied. Having undergone similar experiences in the establishment of the frozen meat trade of Marlborough in 1882, and also in the inaction of direct shipping from Picton to London, I was not discouraged by the reports from Japan, and I continued my efforts. Replying to my friends' several communications, I remember adding that nothing succeeds without effort, and that although there might not appear to be any immediate prospect of trade in New Zealand hemp, there was an old saying, "That it was always darkest before the dawn," which I had so often replied to my London friends whose unfavourable reports upon New Zealand produce of all descriptions were so frequently reversed long before their letters reached me by mail. This is, I am sure, the experience of every merchant long engaged in the export of New Zealand produce, and it is with pleasure I have to announce that for some time past regular orders for New Zealand hemp find their way from Japan. This brings me to say that I read with exceeding pleasure the recent interview in Wellington with Dr Nishikawa, a representative of that country, who gives us further encouragement for extension of our trade, by telling us that in that land there is a good outlet for New Zealand wool. With a population of 40,000,000 who can say to what extent trade with Japan can be developed, especially if they become regular buyers of our staple products, wool and hemp? This will, in some measure, depend upon the shipping facilities which can be secured for the producers, and 1 am in accord with the gentleman who contributed a very valuable paper last year on the same subject, when he emphasised the importance of securing some connection with an Eastern steam service, such as the Japanese mail. Indeed I go further and say that with reasonable proposals and proper subsidies we should be able to induce the Orient and P. and O. Companies to include some New Zealand ports in their Australasian shipping trade.

Trade with the United States.

Towards the end of 1898, on my return to New Zealand, I visited New York, Washington and Boston, and I was more than surprised to learn upon the best authority that American lamb could not compare with the quality we exported from New Zealand.

I immediately seized the opportunity of suggesting the importance of importing New Zealand lamb, which, in addition to its excellent quality, had the further advantage of arriving when their home grown could not be supplied. It may be very Utopian to suggest such an expansion of our trade, but I would re- page 8 spectfully beg to remind my hearers that a great author has said, "The Utopian ideas of to-day become the realities of to-morrow." When the Vancouver service was established, similar objections were raised, but I found that in Vancouver and Victoria there was a growing demand for New Zealand frozen meat, and I shall be glad to see a renewal of negotiations which will lead to a permanent trade between North America and our own land.

I congratulate the Government upon the establishment of the Department of Industries and Commerce, and upon the appointment of a trade commissioner. Under the able direction of the Hon. Sir Joseph Ward, K.C.M.G., with Mr T. E. Donne, as secretary, the efforts of the various chambers of commerce to widen the outlets for our produce will, I am sure, be greatly assisted.

Gentlemen,—The rapid growth of New Zealand is wonderful, and is unrivalled by any of her sister colonies. Let us give full scope and freedom to this expansion. Let us encourage every reasonable effort without extravagance to place our produce in the markets of the world remembering that the longer we delay the greater the difficulties in permanently establishing our name against our rivals, Let us also remember that to secure the confidence of buyers in the outer world we must be prepared to send the best one colony can produce, and at all till maintain our standard of uniform quality. The careful supervision of the Agricultural Department has already secured for us the confidence of dairy produce and hemp buyers in the Mother Land, which has been of incalculable benefit to those engaged in the respective trades.

Gentlemen,—If we are all true to ourselves, if we would remember that indifference to our commerce produces depreciation of trade, and that industry and activity bring wealth and power, we have nothing to fear as to our future commercial condition, which must, in their natural order of things, bring increased prosperity to these "Fortunate Isles."

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Printed at the office of the New Zealand Times Company, Limited, Wellington.