The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 3/Chamber of Commerce proposed

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4149381The Bohemian Review, volume 3, no. 1 — Chamber of Commerce proposed1919


The campaign for close commercial relations between United States and Czechoslovakia was opened at a conference of Czechoslovak business men who met in Baltimore on December 10th upon the occasion of the Southern Commercial Congress. One session of this important congress was devoted to the new Czechoslovak Republic, and Charles Pergler, commissioner of the Czechoslovak National Council in America, spoke on behalf of his government. After the session was over, about 30 visitors and prominent Baltimore Bohemians met at the Emerson Hotel to discuss ways and means of helping the economic progress of the old country. Some of the foremost Bohemian-American business men were present. From Chicago came Frank G. Hajíček, president of the Lawndale National Bank, John A. Červenka, president of the Pilsen Brewing Company, and a member of the Board of Directors of the American State Bank, John A. Sokol, food importer, Josef Dušek, one of Chicago’s biggest commission merchants, and Frank Skala, steamship ticket agent. The large Cleveland colony of Bohemians was represented by F. J. Truneček, dealer in hops, M. Zeman, steel manufacturer, Dr. J. F. Rybák, president of a savings bank, and George Palda, attorney.

Slovak business men sent as their representative Paul Jamarik and Josef Durish of Pittsburgh, and Edward Kovac of Uniontown. From New York came Charles Ort, while the Bohemians of Baltimore were represented by nearly a dozen of their business and professional leaders. From Washington, in addition to Mr. Charles Pergler, came Major John Šípek, secretary of the Czechoslovak Legion, and Dr. J. F. Smetanka, director of the Czechoslovak Information Bureau.

The conference lasted three hours and nearly every one present participated in the discussion. It was realized that the most important and pressing economic problem of the Czechoslovak Republic was to obtain a supply of foodstuffs for the extended population and a supply of raw materials to keep the factories going and the people employed. This problem, however ,was recognized as being beyond the capacity of the Czechoslovak business men in the United States; that was a matter for the Czechoslovak government to take up with the governments of the Allies, and principally with the food administration and the War Trade Board of the United States. At the same time the suggestion was thrown out that a stock company might be formed under some such name as the American-Czechoslovak Trading Company to buy in this country goods needed in Bohemia and to act as consignee for Bohemian exports to America.

Another subject discussed was investment in manufacturing enterprises; this was emphasized by Slovak delegates who claimed that the crying need of Slovakia was foreign capital. Of all the Czechoslovak lands this part is perhaps the richest in natural resources, but is is at the same time the least developed. No doubt Bohemia and Moravia are badly in need of additional capital to develop their industries, for while before the war there was sufficient wealth and excellent banking system to take care of the financial needs of these lands, the ravages of war cannot be repaired entirely by internal efforts. But in comparison with Slovakia Bohemia is richly supplied with capital. Slovakia needs large investments for the development of its coal mines, oil wells, iron ore riches, mineral springs, lumber industries, etc.

The appeal of the Slovak delegates found a warm response from the entire conference, and it was recognized generally that until regular connection is reestablished with the Czechoslovak republic and until consultation can be held with the business leaders there, no appeal can be made here to subscribe capital for an investment abroad.

Every one present however, was agreed as to the advisability of establishing at once a Czechoslovak-American Chamber of Commerce. The one great service the Czechoslovaks in this country could render to the newly formed republic is to find markets for Czechoslovak products in the United States. While the principal market for Czechoslovak exports will be found in Russia and the Balkans, many things are produced in Bohemia for which demand could be found in America. Even before the war musical instruments like violins, harps, band instruments etc., were imported to America from Bohemia. Today this market is in Japanese hands, but with German competition removed Bohemia should have no difficulty in capturing the musical instrument market of America. The same thing is true of gloves, cut glass and chemical glassware, toys, laces, etc.

It was decided at the Baltimore conference to take important steps for the establishment of a Chamber of Commerce. This institution will issue bulletins and booklets on Czechoslovak industries, will give financial ratings of importers in Bohemia, will maintain permanent commercial exhibits in New York, Chicago and probably some other cities. The formal constitution of the American-Czechoslovak Chamber of Commerce will take place in Chicago at a great convention of Bohemian and Slovak business men from all parts of the United States on February 3rd and 4th.

This work was published before January 1, 1929 and is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 95 years or less since publication.

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