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raised it could not fail to bring hardship to millions outside our borders. Conversely, a lowering of our tariffs on citrus fruits would stimulate another branch of Caribbean industry which now languishes for the benefit of our own growers in Florida and California.
The treatment of sugar in our tariffs brings out the relation of the prosperity of these islands to their access to foreign markets. When the Underwood-Simmons tariff was passed, it was given great praise by the Barbadians and others who before had paid the full tariff rate for any sugar sent us, and by the Cubans who would no longer have to pay even the twenty per cent. of the regular rate demanded by the reciprocity treaty. The Porto Ricans looked askance at a measure which destroyed the advantage they had enjoyed over their West Indian neighbors and the producers of cane and beet sugar in the United States were outspoken in their opposition, as they have regularly been opposed to the free importation of any sugar produced outside continental United States.
The coffee trade illustrates in a different way the dependent position of the Caribbean regions. Next to Brazil, the most important Latin-American coffee producers are Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia, Nicaragua, Haiti and Costa Rica. But none produces in sufficient quantity to be a serious competitor to Brazil. The
1 "For some time the West Indies took the lead in coffee production from which they have strangely declined. Java eventually outstripped them, to be in turn outstripped by Brazil, which at present supplies more than three-fourths of the world's coffee production.” Coffee, Monthly Bulletin of the International Bureau of American Republics, Washington, November, 1908, p. 860.
result is that this trade, forming a large percentage of the total exports, is dependent for its prosperity upon the price of Brazilian coffee, except to the extent that the product of each country is able by its peculiar flavor to establish its own market. In this case, therefore, the prosperity of the country, so far as it is determined by its coffee trade, is dependent, not only upon favorable tariff rates which thus far have been the general good fortune of coffee-producing countries, but also upon the amount and character of the crop in the country of greatest production and upon the conditions under which its marketing there is permitted. Of course, this is true of markets for all growing crops in all sections of the world, but it is especially true when one country holds such a dominant position in production as Brazil does in raising coffee. High prices for Brazil mean high prices for these countries and vice-versa. Thus all these countries were able to profit by the rise in price temporarily brought by the Brazilian valorization scheme and suffer now from its break up, though more fortunate than the Brazilian producer in that they are not having to pay for the experiment.
Cacao, like coffee, is consumed chiefly in countries where it is not produced. The best cocoa is a factory product-a product thus far of temperate regions. Even the manufactured product consumed in the countries where it is raised, except among the poorer classes, is imported from abroad. The prosperity of this industry, like that of coffee, depends, therefore, primarily upon the prosperity of foreign lands and favorable tariff rates.
In imports also the Caribbean region is greatly dependent upon the markets of other countries. Compared to conditions of a generation ago there is an increasing dependence on a foreign food supply. Unlike the classic example of Great Britain, this is the result, not of the development of a large manufacturing population and a declining agriculture, but of a development of local agriculture along particular lines not productive of foodstuffs of the kind and variety now demanded. It represents an increased demand for foodstuffs in amount and a change in the habits of the people as to the varieties used. A similar development has, of course, long been going on in more temperate climes. The introduction of root crops into England from the Continent is a favorite example of the diversification of our food habits, the increased consumption of maize, tomatoes, rice, tropical fruits, and a host of other vegetable products in the United States and elsewhere illustrates a later development of a similar sort. Food consumption is undergoing a revolution in tropical and subtropical countries. They are taking up where possible the raising of the foodstuffs of the temperate zone and are importing from distant regions an increasing portion of the food which they cannot or at least do not produce for themselves.
Perhaps the most striking example of this development in the Caribbean is the large rice trade built up by the Germans. The cultivation of paddy had been introduced into various West Indian and northern South American territories, but met with only slight success except in the British colonies which have imported East Indian laborers. In the rest of the Caribbean, rice culture has never become important. Larger supplies are yearly brought from Rangoon, Burma. The larger part of the shipments do not come direct. Unhulled rice is carried to Hamburg where its preparation is finished and the by-products used as food for animals. The cleaned rice is then reshipped to the Caribbean, forming one of the staple German exports in almost all the communities where German trade makes a showing.
Though this example of dependence on a foreign food supply is more striking than that on any other single article, it illustrates an increasing dependence on imports, which, taken in connection with the unusual dependence of the prosperity of the region upon a few leading export products, makes the economic position of these peoples unusually weak.
A BRIEF review of the principal Caribbean products and their markets will show their importance as an element in the foreign trade of the United States. It will also indicate the possibilities of further developing the various industries that may attract American capital and thus, in another way, indirectly touch our national interests. In this chapter are discussed chiefly the Caribbean industries which have already acquired importance for us. Among the notable products of the region are sugar, coffee and cacao. The fruit trade and possible development of oil resources are separately treated; tobacco receives attention in the chapter on Cuba, and the promising copra industry has yet to take an important place in Caribbean commerce.
Sugar, in the past generation, like several other products of great importance to the tropics, has found its conditions of production revolutionized. Natural indigo, formerly a typical product of tropical regions, has been largely displaced by the synthetic product. Wild rubber, which seemed destined for a time to make the Amazon region of increasing commercial importance, is