1902 Encyclopedia > Germany > Germany - Commerce

(Part 10)



Statistics relating to the foreign trade of the empire are necessarily confined to very recent times. The quantities of such imported articles as are liable to duty have indeed been known for many years; and some years ago an attempt was also made to compile official tables showing the value both of imports and of exports. But when the results of these tables proved the importation to be very much greater than the exportation, the conviction arose that the valuation of the exports was erroneous, and below the reality. There is no compulsory declaration of such goods, and consequently the attempt to compute statistics of this nature has been abandoned since 1875. It must at the outset be observed that the customs frontier doest not coincide with the political frontier of Germany, for it does not take in the free-port territories of Hamburg and Cuxhaven, Bremen, Bremerhafen and Geestemünde, &c. (in all, 129 square miles with 593,040 inhabitants, in 1875), besides some communes in Baden adjoining the Lake of Constance (22 square miles, 5236 inhabitants). On the other hand the grand-duchy of Luxembourg (998 square miles, with 205,158 inhabitants in 1875) and the small Austrian commune of Jungholz 206 inhabitants), near Füssen, belong to the German Zollverein. The collection of duties is a function of the empire. The following table shows the results of the official calculations of the imports into Germany for 1872-76, and also the values of the exports, but in the case of these it is only the figures for the years 1872-74 that are official. The numbers for 1875 and 1876 are those published by Professor Laspeyres in the Économiste Français.


The extremely slight variation which this table shows in the exports of the several years from 1872 to 1876 appears so improbable that we can hardly venture to make it a basis of calculation, or to draw a conclusion so unfavourable to the trading balance of Germany as the figures would suggest. The proportion per head of population is, as regards imports and exports respectively, about £4, 10s. and £3, whereas the proportion in Great Britain in 1876 amounted in the one case to £11, 10s. and in the other to £6, thus showing the German trade to be less than half that of England. The statistical tables do not specify the several foreign markets for imports and exports; they only give the value of imports on the different frontiers.


According to the official trade returns of Great Britain, France, and other countries, the trade between Germany and these countries is very considerable. By the English tables the importation from Germany to British ports was in 1875-76 between £21,000,000 and £22,000,000; the exportation to Germany in 1875 was £23,300,000, and in 1876, £20,100,000. The movement of trade is shown in the following tables of the principal articles imported and exported. We begin with articles of consumption:—


The weights are stated in hundredweights (cwts.) net throughout (see Statistical Abstract published by the English Board of Trade, No. V., 1878). This table shows that of late years Germany has had to order considerable quantities of grain from abroad. The value of the importation, estimated at £14,000,000 in 1872, was nearly £36,000,000 in 1877. Similarly the value of the imported animals advanced from £4,400,000 in 1872 to £9,500,000 in 1877.

The following table gives the imports and exports of the principal raw materials:—


With regard to the proper products of industry, the exports, with few exemptions, such as yarn, exceed the imports in every case, as is shown in the table below. The total value of all fabrics imported is estimated at about £30,000,000, that of those exported at from £42,000,000 to £45,000,000. But, even supposing the last figures to be too low, the difference between the German and the British trade is still very great, since the value of all the industrial products exported by Great Britain may be stated at £170,000,000 for the year 1875 (see Almanach de Gotha, 1877). The difference is greatest in the textile industries,—the value of tissues exported from England in 1875 being estimated at £1,000,000, while that of Germany did not rank higher than from £20,000,000 to £25,000,000. Articles of hardware are showing a great decrease of imports and a considerable increase of exports.


The principal ports of import and export are Hamburg and Bremen, and in these places the annual amount of shipping business has advanced step by step with the general development of German trade. As to the total value of goods entering Hamburg we have accurate statistics for several decades.


The stagnation in the development of trade during the period 1871-1877 is obvious; and with Bremen the case is the same. The following table states the total imports of Bremen by sea and from the interior. The importation from Germany or the Zollverein territory represents about one-third of the total amount. Bremen trades principally with the United States; Hamburg more with England, South America, &c.


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