Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/633

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FOREIGN TRADE OF THE UNITED STATES.

THE FOREIGN TRADE OF THE UNITED STATES.[1]
By FREDERIC EMORY,

CHIEF OF THE BUREAU OF FOREIGN COMMERCE.

DURING the calendar year just ended, the inundation of foreign markets by American goods proceeded on the lines indicated in previous issues of the 'Review of the World's Commerce/ with a constantly growing volume and force which have surmounted many difficult obstacles and offer a strong temptation to overconfidence in our capabilities as an exporting nation. At the present time, the United States may be said to be nearing the top wave of industrial eminence, and there is ample reason for the belief that the next few years will witness a great expansion in the sale of our more highly developed manufactures. But in the annual reports of our consular officers for the year 1900, there runs, along with a common note of satisfaction, a warning, here and there, of a more strenuous competition which, in the end, may counterbalance our superior advantages to a considerable extent and check our progress in the world's markets, unless we equip ourselves in the meantime for the ultimate phases of the struggle.

Nothing could well be more gratifying than the picture of our foreign trade as it is to-day by comparison with the figures of very recent years. It is all the more remarkable because our progress has been achieved with but little effort and by means not directed specifically to the promotion of foreign trade, but largely fortuitous, and springing from our intense absorption, for many years, in domestic industry and internal development. In other words, we have reached a surprising eminence in the exportation of manufactured goods, not because we were seeking that goal, but because, in developing our resources, in manufacturing for the home market, we attained an excellence and comparative cheapness of production which, to the astonishment of ourselves as well as of the world at large, has suddenly made us a formidable competitor—perhaps the most formidable of all—in the great international rivalry for trade.

The question for the future is whether we can permanently hold the position we seem about to gain, by means of what may be termed

  1. From advance proof sheets of the 'Review of the World's Commerce,' introductory to 'Commercial Relations of the United States,' 1900. The 'Review' will also be printed as a separate pamphlet. Applications for it, as also for the two bound volumes, 'Commercial Relations,' should be addressed to the Chief of the Bureau of Foreign Commerce, Department of State, Washington, U. S. A.