often expressed that France is able not only to finance its heavy public expenditures, but loan hundreds of millions of dollars abroad. This is explained by the economy of the people there, who save the three cents a day that we waste.
When discussing commerce it is necessary to speak at length of war, as it is the greatest enemy of trade. The dark cloud of war still rests over us, with no sign of breaking or lifting. Many of our factories are closed or working short time, and there are hundreds of thousands out of employment. Our goods are needed abroad, especially in Latin America, to take the place of those formerly supplied by the warring nations; we need their orders to start up our wheels of industry, and some means must be found to secure them. Export markets are necessary to economical manufacture, as they lower the unit cost of production, as our total domestic trade will only keep our factories running about two thirds full and the profit largely rests on the remaining third. Export work, therefore, can be done cheaper than domestic trade. Although we have the advantage in raw material and can compensate for higher wages by increased efficiency, we have had to compete with nations that have made foreign trade a study, who have a better merchant marine than we can ever have under present restrictions. We must compete with nations that encourage business, the bigger the better if lawfully conducted, instead of persecuting them as though success was criminal rather than a proof of merit. The political opposition to those who succeed through ability must die out before we can hope to permanently hold the lion’s share of export business.
|FOREIGN TRADE OF THE UNITED STATES|
COMMERCIAL MUSEUM, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
THE old maxim “in time of peace prepare for war” has a new meaning and a new application. The situation created by the European conflict has emphasized the necessity for preparedness to meet emergencies which may arise, affecting the commercial requirements and financial conditions of countries whose trade we seek.
Many a country whose usual sources of supply have been cut off and in which we might find a new market for the products of our factories, is terra incognita to a large number of our manufacturers, and valuable time is being lost and false moves will be made because of the altogether too nearly universal ignorance of the conditions, needs and business methods of important commercial centers abroad. And there is really no excuse for such ignorance.
Twenty years ago a manufacturer had few aids to the acquirement of such knowledge. Information regarding the local demands, the