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It is that one mentioned by every one here from the president of the Republic, the minister of foreign affairs, to the most plain and practical man of businesssteamship communication, frequent and direct, and American, between our ports and those of this country. This once established, placed on a sure and permanent basis, under fair limitations as to freights and passage so that our merchants and manufacturers can lay down their goods and through agents or personally visit these shores at no greater expense than their European rivals, and the beginning of the supremacy of American goods in the great valley the La Plata is assured. Toward this consummation will confederate the kindly feelings of the people and Government toward the Republic whose example they follow and revere.
The undoubted superiority of most of our goods, the greater fidelity that enters into them, their adaptibility to the wants of the people, all will tend to the same result. Finally, the address and push of the commercial classes, with a fair chance and an open market, will outstrip in many ways the slower processes and methods of their old World competitors.
THE STEAMSHIP QUESTION. The fact that the Belgian Government has just concluded a subsidy convention with Lamport & Holt to secure three steamers each way monthly between Antwerp, Rio Janeiro, and Buenos Ayres, at a cost of $50,000 annually for fifteen years and exemption from all port dues in Antwerp, shows how highly that little kingdom appreciates the nature of these connections, and also tends to establish the necessity of Government aid in our case where we have no present steamship connections to begin with. Doubtless the investment will prove a good one for Belgium. It is the only way she can hope to build up trade with the South American ports. We incline to the belief that in case of aid being granted on the part of our Government toward such lines it also should cover the port of Rosario. Lamport & Holt's steamers, drawing 18 feet and under, already visit that place, and it is beyond a reasonable question that within a short time the bar which now keeps vessels of greater draft from running up to the moles of Rosario will be opened. This being done, the city must assume very great importance: indeed, it has that now. But with improved water communication its trade with the interior, even iar into Bolivia, will take a long forward step. The port of Buenos Ayres is not yet what it should be; heavy steamers anchor out of the town many miles, and the pamperos are as troublesome here as at Montevideo. The project for improving the harbor covers an expenditure of many millions of dollars, and its realization lies far in the future.
Boga de Riacheulo, a new port, some 3 miles from the city, is advantageous for smaller vessels, but its use for ocean steamers is limited to those of 20 feet draft, and even these more often receive cargo from the city front. Whether Rosario is or is not embraced in the La Plata ports to be visited by our steamers is perhaps a matter that will follow the wants of commerce when once the lines are well fixed. In this building up of a merchant marine between the United States and the La Plata Valley, beyond its immediate commercial aspect there is brought into view its effect in drawing more firmly the kindly ties that bind our countries into friendly alliance. As we have before noted, this line will unite the power of several countries in its promotion. The Empire of Brazil already in part sustains a monthly line to its ports from New
York, and it would undoubtedly increase its contribution for greater service. The Oriental Republic of Uruguay would concede valuable harbor privileges and port exemptions, and the Argentine Republic can be relied on for a very liberal financial contribution, and above these amounts our own country should grant aid so liberal and for such time as to put competition out of the question. A line thus supported by a union of the several powers would tend to intimate international and commercial relations between the interested countries. Mexico, with her few manufactures and exportable products, finds it worth her while to extend Government aid to establish a line of steamers to these South American ports, and it is quite certain her policy will give her national character and her products increased predominance in all those harbors where her flag shall go.
CONFERENCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT. It was a source of regret that we could not accept the courtesy of the Argentine Government in tendering to us freedoin of the railroads, so that we might from personal observation form an idea of the great resources of the land. The severe storms, one on the Pacific coast and one at Montevideo, detained us five days beyond the schedule time, and this shortened that much of our visit to this country. It is probable, however, that we should not have attained any fuller or more accurate information than that herewith presented: but it would have proven a source of gratification to ourselves. We were formally received by the President and the minister of foreign affairs at the palace, at which interview we read an address, a copy of which will be found herewith. The President responded orally; a translation of his remarks is also transmitted herewith. Before our reception the minister of foreign affairs held a long conversation with us on the subject of our mission. He stated fully the views of his Government on the main topics, which were afterwards reaffirmed by the President.
The project of a convention of the countries of Central and South America and the United States meets the hearty approval of this Government. The question of a common silver coin should, in its opinion, be referred to that body, though the desirability of establishing such a coinage is very strongly advised by it.
A reciprocity treaty would be willingly formed, if a basis for it could be found. The chief product of the Republic, and one which might have most use in the United States, is wool, hardly any of which now seeks the ports of our country. But on this point we were not able to offer any suggestion looking toward the abolition of the duty upon it in our country. When our country chooses to admit wool free of duty from South American countries, then, with all of them, save possibly Chile, reciprocity treaties advantageous to both sides can be negotiated. Until then tbe matter need not be discussed.
On the leading question-how can better relations, friendly and commercial, between the countries be established?—both minister and President returned the same answer-create frequent steamship communication. They expatiated at some length on its benefits to both lands. They saw in it a better acquaintance on their own part, their leading men, of the habits and policy of our country, and with that would come greater desire to rival us in the institutions of freedom. They believed their own people would take on broader and more generous views when they had once come into close business contact with our own; and then, too, they felt that our people would bring to the Argentine Republic capital and progressive ideas when they should be informed of the great future lying before it. They claimed that if the United States thoroughly comprehended the vastness of undeveloped wealth of this region, its money and sons would flow bither in streams of profit to each side. Hence it was that the Argentine Government stood ready, at any time the United States should foster the scheine, to unite with it on just terms in establishing frequent and cheap steam communication between the respective countries. The earnestness of both the President and minister on this question was very manifest.
The kindness with which they spoke of the few American merchants and business men in their midst, and their appreciation of their high character and the good name they had given our country was very cordial. Such men they were gad to welcome to this country. The President repeatedly thanked our Government for sending this special message of good will, and he expressed a regret, which we heartily felt also, that our time was so limited.
It will be a great mistake if the Argentine Republic is not attached to the United States by far stronger ties than exist to-day. The way to it is easy and open.
Imports from 1876 to 1883.
EXPORTS AND IMPORTS OF THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC—Continued.
Quantities and values of the imports of the United States from the Argentine
Hair, unmanufac- Hides and ended skins,
skins, Fancy June un
other than goods. 30— dressed. Quantity. Value. furs.
1869. 1870. 1871. 1872. 1873.. 1874. 1875 1876. 1877 1878. 1879 1880. 1881
1,060, 697 263, 567 4, 256, 334
897 1,094,237 309, 258 2,695, 118 41,293 1,079, 039 278, 879 4, 126, 039 105, 618 1,260,837 308, 441 1,969, 923 38,026 740, 961 130, 620 2,071, 161 59,859 974, 431 163, 964 3, 380, 747 59, 138 1,235, 277 196, 181 2, 377,385 250, 342 1,875, 335 314, 221 3, 865, 168 33, 174 1,320,004
4, 261, 833
Pounds. $30,3648, 249, 659 12, 183 16,741, 420 32, 183 23,333, 237 142, 697 24,731, 834 133, 352 17,449, 563 127, 140 8,502, 627 117,666 8,999, 693 94, 384 7,376, 249 58, 1638, 166, 025 78, 973 9, 489, 121 55, 2056, 929,514 86,498 12, 278, 776 39,214 6,163, 223
$1,020, 737 $85, 489 $5, 162, 966 1,853, 105 29, 480 6,414, 669 2,605, 956 215, 314 7,040,575 3,608, 147 72,658 9, 169, 982 3, 407, 187 59,856 7,587, 843 1,276, 456 128, 801 4.537, 670 1,241, 916 28, 916 5,834, 709 1,030,278 94,092 3,602, 736 1,056, 262 95,077 3,449, 309 1, 191, 429 73,044 4,948, 016
791, 883 38, 313 3,518, 105 1,625, 378 72, 968 6,214,575 1,015, 685 4:2, 132 5,669, 240
EXPORTS AND IMPORTS OF THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC-Continued.
Quantities and values of the exports from the United States to the Argentine
Of Buenos Ayres, merchant, and consul at Buenos Ayres of Denmark, Russia, and Norway and
Sweden.] The present condition of steam communication with the United States is highly unsatisfactory.
No direct connection exists between this river and ports of the States, except through occasional steamers of the Lamport & Holt Line, and these are mainly adapted for cargo, while passengers bound for the United States have to embark by way of Europe or tako a steamer hence to Rio Janeiro, and from there proceed in one of the three steamers belonging to the United States and Brazil Mail Company, or by the Royal Mail steamers lately established between Rio and New York.
While thus the communication from here to the States is imperfect, there is not a single steamer leaving that country for this river. Passengers bound to South America have to go by the way of Europe or to avail themselves of the monthly steamers dispatched by the United States and Brazil Company to Rio.
As for cargo it is impossible to have it shipped in the States for these ports, except by sailing vessels or via Europe, as the heavy charges in Rio make transshipment in that port out of the question. This state of things is the more to be regretted considering the enormous increase of trade during the last years and the general development of this country, and the importance assumed by the steam navigation with Europe.
Up to the year 1862 no direct line of steamers united this country with any European ports, and communication with steamers was entertained only by the aid of two monthly boats, one of the Royal Mail Company from Southampton to Rio, with auxiliary steamers running between that port and Buenos Ayres, and one of the French, then Messageries Impériale, and to-day Messageries Maritimes. In 1862 these two companies started almost simultaneously one direct steamer from Southampton and Bordeaux to this river, while Messrs. Lamport & Holt organized a service of cargo boats. Since then several French, English, and Italian companies were started, but it is only from the year 1871 that a considerable increase has been noticed in our steam communication.
At present as many as 30 regular mail steamers arrive every month, while double this number visit our port during the busy seasons.
This increase has been effected without any effort or pecuniary sacrifice on the part of the Government, and has only obeyed the steady development of the coun. try's commerce and the inducement held out as a field for immigration from Europe.
It must be observed that some of the European governments have assisted shipowners by granting subsidies to certain steam lines, but these subventions have been of a general nature and not exclusively for this trade. The Royal Mail Steam Company and the Pacific Steam Navigation Company have been allowed an annual sum for carrying the mails. Messrs. Lamport & Holt have a contract with the Belgian Government, of which the principal conditions are as follow in the printed contract inclosed.
The French steamers enjoy the benefits of the bounty law, put into force in 1881, granting a premium to all French steam and sailing vessels, which is fixed at 1.50 francs for every 1,000 miles done for new vessels on leaving the building yard, which premium decreases annually as follows: 0.075 franc for wooden vessels; 0.075 franc for mixed vessels (wood and iron); 0.05 franc for iron vessels. Besides this, a special allowance is granted to the steamers of the Messageries Maritimes of 100,000 francs for each steamer each trip running to the river Platte (twice a month). Besides this allowance no other subsidy is given either to English, German, or Italian lines.
The Argentine Government, understanding the importance of a line of steamers between this country and the United States, and anxious to contribute to its establishment, issued a decree so far back as 1865 granting a subsidy of $20,000 a year to the first line that would solve the problem. This sum not being found adequate to meet the expenses of a regular line of steamers, at least until the traffic between the two countries had assumed larger proportions, the law remained a dead letter. During the administration of General Sarmiento the matter was again taken into consideration without its leading to any results, and it was only during the last year of the presidency of Dr. Avellaneda that an American company volunteered to make a contract to establish monthly steamers against a subsidy of $100,000 a year. The executive power sent a message to congress to this effect, but it was never discussed; the actual President, General Roca, renewed its request to congress, which is still in abeyance.
One of the reasons why congressmen are rather lukewarm on the subject, in spite of the utility of such a line, is the fact that the Government of the United States shows so little interest in the matter, refusing to give any subsidy, and even imposing protectional duties on our principal staple article-wool—to an extent to render its export to the States impossible. There is no doubt that the Argentine Government would be willing to grant a subsidy of about $100,000 yearly for a period of, say, ten years, if the American Government granted at least a similar amount, and my impression is that as long as the trade between the two countries is limited to its present state, and until the frequent intercourse has fostered fresh relations, a sum of, say, $20,000 per round trip for each steamer would be required to guarantee owners against loss.
The Brazilian Government having granted a subvention to an American line some years ago, a regular service is now kept up between New York and Rio, with intermediate Brazilian ports.
It might be convenient for any new company starting to amalgamate its interests with this line, especially if a bimonthly service were organized.
In connection with the above it might be expedient to consider the convenience of availing of the law, recently issued by the Mexican Government, granting a considerable yearly subvention for a line of steamers between Vera Cruz and Buenos Ayres, and as the Government of that Republic does not make it a condition that the steamers shall carry the Mexican flag, an American line might easily obtain this contract.
In this way a perfect communication between the principal countries of North and South America might be established on a sound and safe basis of equal interest from political as well as from a commercial point of view. The ports to call at might be New York, New Orleans, Vera Cruz, Habana, St. Thomas, Bahia, Per