Sivut kuvina
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Statement showing the imports at Wenchow, &c.—Continued.

Lily flowers, dried.

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Wax, white..

Statement showing the exports from Wenchow for the year ending June 30, 1882.

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Statement showing the navigation at the port of Wenchow, &c.—Continued.

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Statement showing the navigation at the port of Wenchow for the year ending June 30, 1882.

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Report by Consul-General Halderman, of Bangkok, on the commerce and industries of Siam for the year 1882.

I have the honor to transmit herewith tabulated statements of imports, exports, and shipping for the Kingdom of Siam, as declared by his Siamese majesty's commissioner of customs for the year ending December 31, 1882.

Within the year there has been but little to chronicle in the course of trade. The paralysis which existed at the opening, in the staple product of the country has gradually extended, until the whole commerce of the kingdom has been brought to a very unsatisfactory condition.

The rice crops in Burmah and Cochin-China have been abundant, and the general want of employment for the large amount of steam tonnage in eastean waters has so far lowered these ports to place their

grain in the Straits, Java, and China, at prices, with which competition on the part of Siam would be futile. Combinations of paddy holders to maintain the high price of the raw material, have closed nearly all the foreign mills, and those which still keep at work are doing so, as many believe, at serious loss. I see no prospect of an early improvement in this branch of trade. American and British dealers have been driven out by the Germans, and the latter are now yielding inch, by inch, to the Chinese.

The demand for teak lumber still continues in excess of the supply from the upper country, and the rafts of logs brought to this market are readily placed. The limits for purchasing for foreign markets are, however, so near the prices demanded for the rough logs that but a narrow margin is left for sawing and shipping. The lack of other opportunities for profitable employment of capital has forced so many into this business that the margin has been greatly narrowed by resulting competition. In spite of all the disadvantages, teak may be delivered on board at this port at smaller prices than at Burman ports, and if the obstacles to the passage from the forests to the ocean could be removed or modified a large and lucrative industry might be developed.

The imports into Siam from the United States are chiefly petroleum, flour, canned goods, salt provisions. In some cases they are imported direct, but far the greater part comes through Hong Kong and the Straits settlements. The consumption of petroleum is large and increasing. In a great measure it has superseded the native oils used for illuluminating purposes, and is in general use from the palace to the hovel. The flour used in baking is brought by the Pacific steamers to HongKong, and thence to Siam by the steamers plying regularly between the two. The quantity consumed is, however, inconsiderable, the bulk of the population living largely on rice. About 18,000 bags, amounting to $21,000 in value, cover the importation. An increasing demand for the canned provisions of Amercia has been manifest, and orders have been sent to Europe largely in excess of previous years. The absence of direct communication and the difficulty of regulating exchange between this and the United States preclude the probability of a largely increased commerce in the near future. The bulk of American goods must reach us here through Europe. American arms have of late attracted attention. It is now proposed to equip the Siamese army therewith.

American carriages are occasionally met with, and, if a style of build better adapted to the small horses of the country could be devised, they would command a ready sale.

Other articles of our manufacture may occasionally be seen, but the aggregate is scarcely of enough importance to command attention.

In spite of the fact shown by an examination of the accompanying ab stracts, that the exports from Siam exceed the imports by over two millions during the past twelve months, exchange on the rice marts commands a higher price than it has for several years past, fetching readily 6 and 7 per cent. premium. The Siamese tical, of the nominal value of 60 cents, is now worth only about 54 cents or less.

London is the center of exchanges, and does the banking business of Asia. The Mexican silver dollar is the currency of the countries bordering the China seas, and it is not to our credit that it is so. Why should not our standard silver dollar hold this place? Give to it more of intrinsic value than that possessed by the Mexican, and there is no rea

son to doubt that it would speedily become the circulating medium of Asia's millions. Now, like a poor relation, everybody gives it the cold shoulder. Even the Chinaman, who knows a thing or two, tabooed it when it first crossed the Pacific, and since that time it has found no lodgment here.

If our country would find foreign markets for our surplus productions, whether in the shape of sewing machines, pork, silver dollars, or cotton cloth, we should furnish as good an article and sell for less money than our competitors.

The heavy labor in Siam is performed chiefly by emigrants from China. The bulk of the native Siamese population, apart from the retainers and slaves of the great nobles, are fishermen, gardeners, and small farmers. In the country districts they grow their own rice on vacant Government land, pay royalty for its use, and leave heavy labor problems to be by others. The Siamese are soldiers, sailors, boatmen, small traders on shore or in the creeks, policemen, slaves, &c. From the ranks of the more vigorous children of the north are the merchants, mechanics, artizans, peddlers, hawkers, house servants, stevedores, and laborers.

The price varies with the labor demanded. Carpenters, blacksmiths, and other skilled workmen command readily a tical (60 cents) per day; common coolies, from 30 to 45 cents; house boys and body servants, $10 per month; cooks and scullions, from $12 per month downward, according to merit, the poorest workmen generally demanding the highest wages. Out of this stipend they are compelled to provide their own food. This, in the case of laboring men, who require three meals each day, cost about 4 teals or $2.40 per month. To others, laboring and feeding lighter, the expense is less. At a first-class native restaurant a fair meal can be had at from 4 to 6 cents, and even less, according to the number of courses and the style in which the repast is served.

During the past year the King has completed a new palace at a cost of $1,750,000. For the furniture, manufactured in England and France, $260,000 have been expended. The edifice is an imposing structure of composite order of architecture, and cost perhaps not more than three times what it should have cost where it stands, but certainly double what a similar building would cost in New York, Washington, or Saint Louis, after a heavy commission to middlemen and a reasonable profit to the contractors.

The revenue of Siam is collected by a system of "farming," which saves the State a large outlay for officials, expense, and maintenance, but which creates an irksome monopoly liable to great abuses. A price is fixed as the tax upon any proposed article which shall pay revenue to the State. Take the duck and chicken farm for illustration. For every duck and chicken killed for food, within the district "farmed," the owner pays so much to the farmer. He, on his part, pays a lump sum to the Government for the privilege of collecting this import each year. He tries to make all he can out of his bargain, by large collections, but he is not permitted to exceed the price fixed by lam for each fowl slain. Should he fail, and they sometimes do, his transgression would be seseverely punished.

Among the principal sources of revenue thus "farmed" are the spirit shops, brothels, and gambling houses. Eastern statesmanship has sought to control every stream of vice which it has found itself impotent to check. If the tide may not be stayed "let it be directed into channels where the least harm may result," is the policy of the East,

and its friends claim that it has been successful, not only in the native states, but in the European colonies of tropical Asia.

In one marked evidence of civilization, Siam is wanting. She has no national debt.

Telegraphic communication with the outside world will probably be established during the present year, and internal postal facilities made secure during the year following. But, the handful of foreigners here, ask what good will come of the change. How will Siam be benefited? The answer may be that the change is preferable to stagnation—that remotely it may be instrumental in opening canals and waterways, and in converting jungles into paddy fields.

Minister Resident and Consul-General.

Bangkok, Siam, March 27, 1883.

Return of imports at Bangkok as declared at the customs from January 1 to December 31, 1882. [Furnished by the commissioner of customs.]

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