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address pointed out that there has come a great change in the position of the British West Indies—“the United States has now within her own territory or affiliated to her by special treaties, a tropical area which goes far toward satisfying her own wants. . . . As these countries now have advantages which are not enjoyed by the British West Indian islands a complete reversal of the position of things ... has taken place. ... We are more and more driven to come to each other for our mutual advantage.” 1
The dissatisfaction felt at the situation has found expression in pessimistic publications, both in the islands and in the home country. It was urged at the time when the Canadian agreement was under consideration that “For us to declare preferential treatment in favor of Canada, on goods which we now get from the United States, would undoubtedly prove to be an experiment which would bring about certain ruin to the West Indies; more so in the case of Jamaica, which is almost entirely dependent on her markets.” It was feared that the maximum tariff provision of the Payne-Aldrich Tariff bill might be applied on the plea that the tariff agreement constituted unfair treatment of United States trade.
Mr. Richard Jebb, in an article on “The West Indies and the Empire” in the London Standard, sees in the present economic position of the United States a men
Canada-West Indies Conference, Ottawa, 1913, p. 4. 2 Meikle, L. S. Confederation of the British West Indies versus Annexation to the United States of America. London, 1912, p.
ace to European control. He declares, “The present gravitation towards the United States would be counteracted, not only for the British, but also for the other islands, by a new center of attraction in a vigorous Caribbean Confederation under the British flag inspired with the sense of a future political welfare full of possibilities.” The more radical West Indian party also believes that political reorganization might have a favorable influence. They declare for "Confederation of the British West Indian Colonies, with responsible government, as the only means of checking ultimate annexation to the United States of America.” 2
But the West Indies, as shown by the expressions of opinion by their official representatives, will be slow to court trouble with the 100,000,000 people of the United States, who will naturally remain potentially their best customers.
1 Quoted in Meikle, op. cit. p. 181. Meikle, op. cit. pp. 258-4 and passim.
THE MINOR COLONIES OF THE CARIBBEAN
THE minor colonial possessions in the Caribbean region belong to three powers: France, Holland and Denmark. From the point of view of population, or commerce, or as a field for future settlement, none of these colonies seems destined to play a prominent rôle. The value of those on the mainland depends upon the changes in tropical settlement which will be brought by the triumphs of science over nature. The prosperity of the islands depends on their relation to the great trade routes which pass their ports. These may give them a commercial and military importance far beyond what their natural resources assure.
The first two groups are each formed of a comparatively large colony on the mainland of South America and a number of small islands. Both represent what is left of the colonial empires once held by France and Holland in America.
THE FRENCH COLONIES
France, Spain, and Portugal all once possessed great colonial empires in America which they have lost. The latter two have been entirely eliminated by the events of history; the first possesses only a shadow of her former possessions. With the exception of the two small
islands, St. Pierre and Miquelon, the land basis of the French fishing fleet off Newfoundland, all that remains of the American colonies of France are found in the West Indian region. Not of great intrinsic importance -even the French themselves recognize that these possessions lie too far off the trade routes to become important commercial centers—these colonies are interesting as an illustration of what may be accomplished in the development of a territory by following a highly nationalistic policy.
From the point of view of foreign trade, the French West Indies furnish a strong contrast to the other European colonies. It has been the policy to adhere to the old doctrine that the trade of a colony should be assured to the mother country. "Imports from foreign countries are subject to heavy duties” while French goods pay only a light octroi de mer. The regular French tariff rates apply except to a limited number of articles, necessary for the existence of the colony, which France cannot well supply. These latter come chiefly from the United States. In their export trade the French West Indian colonies are favored by free entry of their goods into France. Rum brings a better price in France than can be secured elsewhere. Sugar and rum form over four-fifths of the exports of Martinique, and practically all that shipped goes to France.? The same products predominate in the export trade of Guadeloupe, which goes practically entirely to French ports. The French advantage appears in a striking manner in the import trade, though the United States, due to its proximity and to the fact that it can supply foodstuffs and lumber cheaply while France cannot, is an important source of the islands' supply.
1 Commerce Reports, Supplement, September 29, 1915. ? French customs returns for 1912, quoted in Daily Consular
These two small islands furnish a good illustration of the development to which tropical territories may be brought even if they are purely agricultural. Their foreign trade, in 1912, reached for imports $7,921,575 and for exports $10,925,295, or a total of $18,846,870, this, although the islands have a combined area of only 968 square miles and a population of 396,434, largely black. Compared to the showing of Costa Rica, the most stable and commercially most important of the Central American republics, this trade is large. The populations of the two are practically equal. Although manufactures are negligible in both and reliance is on simple agricultural industries, the foreign trade of the French islands is greater than that of the republic,
and Trade Reports, Sept. 27, 1913, give the following figures: Guadeloupe exports, 1911, $3,907,379, of which to France and French colonies, $3,857,987. Guadeloupe exports, 1912, $5,034,270, of which to France and French colonies, $4,952,968.
1 Ibid. Guadeloupe imports, 1912, from France and French colonies, $2,436,813 or 61.9 per cent.; from the United States $803,449, or 21.3 per cent. Martinique imports from France $2,058,168, or 48 per cent.; from United States, $1,545,896, or 36
Commerce Reports, Supplement, September 29, 1915, March 9, 1916, March 17, 1916. French Customs returns for 1912, quoted in Daily Consular and Trade Reports, September 27, 1913: Imports
Exports Guadeloupe ....$3,768,155
$5,034,270 Martinique 4,153,420 5,891,025 (including reëxports)