Merchants and manufacturers have it in their power to minimise in some degree the extent to which we are becoming indebted to foreign countries in respect of the large excess of imports over exports, by obtaining, as far as possible, their imported supplies of food products and raw materials for industries from countries within the Empire. Take, for example, meat and cheese. The prevailing high prices are no doubt encouraging the home production of these commodities. Nevertheless a large quantity must necessarily be imported. In 1914 meat to the value of 62 million pounds was imported, and cheese to the value of 8 million pounds. Of the imports of meat 26 per cent. came from within the Empire, and of cheese 82 per cent. Clearly it is better under existing circumstances that we should buy meat from Australia and New Zealand than from Argentina, and cheese from Canada and New Zealand rather than from Holland and the United States. Many other examples may be mentioned of products which can equally as well be obtained within the Empire as from foreign countries, such as maize from South Africa, where a large increase of production is expected this year; oats from Canada rather than from Argentina and the United States; barley from Canada; peas from New Zealand; butter from Australia and New Zealand; canned salmon, of which 2½ million pounds' worth was imported in 1914, from Canada rather than from the United States; apples from Canada and Australia; wine from Australia; tea from India and Ceylon rather than from China and Java; cocoa from the Gold Coast and the West Indies; copra from Malaya, India and Australia; rubber from Malaya and Ceylon; fibres from New Zealand, Mauritius, Ceylon, etc.; wood pulp from Canada and Newfoundland; wool from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Falkland Islands rather than from Argentina, Chile and other foreign sources; tanning materials from India, Natal, Australia and British East Africa; dyewoods from the West Indies; timber from Canada; hardwoods from India, West Africa, the West Indies and Australia; copper and copper ore from Australia and South Africa; tin and tin ore from Malaya, Nigeria, South Africa and Australia; manganese from India; plumbago from Ceylon; hides from India, Africa and Australia, and so forth. It has been stated that the result of the war may ultimately depend largely on financial strength. In that case the country which is to the greatest extent self‐supporting as regards supplies of the necessaries of life and materials for the manufacture of munitions of war will be in a position to carry on the longest. Undoubtedly the British Empire contains within itself the power to produce all such materials, and the Dominions, Colonies and Dependencies are in fact already supplying a large proportion of the food products and raw materials for industries, which are imported into the United Kingdom. There are a few notable exceptions, e.g., for our supplies of cotton and sugar we have always been largely dependent on foreign countries, but Uganda and the Soudan are capable of producing in the future very large quantities of cotton of the quality required by Lancashire spinners, and sugar production in our Colonies could, with proper encouragement, be expanded so as to meet the whole of the requirements of the Mother Country. If the British capital and energy which have in the past gone every year to the development of enterprises in foreign countries had been devoted for a tew years exclusively to exploiting the resources of the Dominions and Colonies, the British Empire would, by this time, have become practically self‐supporting, and the bulk of our imported foodstuffs and raw products required for our manufacturing industries would now be obtained from within the Empire and paid for by increased quantities of our own manufactures. It may be hoped that one of the lessons which we shall learn from the war will be definitely to encourage the development of the vast resources of our overseas Empire. — The Chamber of Commerce Journal.
MCB UP Ltd
Copyright © 1915, MCB UP Limited