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foreign demand for our surplus breadstuffs; while the reduced exportation during the fiscal year 1892-'93 is due in part to the smaller grain crop of last year in the United States, coinciding with better crops abroad, and in part to a smaller cotton crop than had been produced in any recent year. Other causes may have contributed to the result, but the predominating influence of those mentioned is demonstrated by the figures submitted.

OUR IMPORTS AND THEIR OVERVALUATION.

Let us now turn to the imports. The official figures, as made up from the returns of collectors of customs and presented in Table I, would give us the following statement for the last three fiscal years:

TABLE X.-Official figures as to the values of imports of merchandise.

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It is estimated, however, by the Bureau of Statistics in which the statistics of our foreign trade are prepared, that the actual value of our imports for the last fiscal year was about $75,000,000 less than the official figures indicate, owing to the fact that importers of goods free of duty, or subject to specific duties only, from countries having depreciated paper currencies, did not furnish customs officers with the gold values of such imports, but reported them at their values in the depreciated paper money of the countries from which the goods were shipped. Making this correction, we should have $866,361,421 as the value of merchandise imported during the last fiscal year, $38,958,959 as the amount by which the imports for the last fiscal year exceeded those for the fiscal year 1891-92, and $21,445,225 as the amount by which they exceeded those for 1890-'91.

In Circular 12,399, issued by the Secretary of the Treasury under date of February 13, 1892, collectors and other officers of the customs were directed, in cases "where the value of the currency does not affect the dutiable value of the merchandise" to waive the requirement of a consular certificate stating the value of the currency in which the goods are invoiced, and leave it to the option of the shippers whether to obtain such a certificate or not. At about the same time a circular to consular officers was issued by the State Department containing instructions in harmony with those issued to collectors of customs by the Treasury Department.

As over four months of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1892, had still to run when these circulars were issued, the imports for the closing portion of that year must have been more or less affected by the new regulation. Some time would necessarily elapse before the circular issued by the State Department reached the consuls to whom it was addressed, and a further period would expire before goods shipped without the consular certificates previously required would reach our ports; but it may reasonably be assumed that by April 1 a large part of the goods entered at our custom-houses would be goods which left their respective ports of shipment after the new regulation as to free goods and goods subject to specific duties became known there. And while there may have been many importers who did not at once take advantage of their option to omit obtaining a consular certificate as to the value of depreciated foreign currency, there are clear indications. that the number who did so was large enough to produce an appreciable effect upon the apparent values of the goods imported during the last three months of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1892. This is illustrated by the following table showing our imports of two impor tant nondutiable articles, namely, coffee and India rubber, from Brazil, a country whose currency is heavily depreciated and the one from which we obtain our principal supplies of the two articles named. The table also serves to give an idea of the extent to which the values of our imports during the last fiscal year were exaggerated from the same

cause.

TABLE XI.—Imports of coffee and India rubber from Brazil, with their average import prices for each period.

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*These are the official figures, as originally reported through our custom-houses and consolidated in the Bureau of Statisties, but the true figures, as estimated in the same Bureau, after making proper allowance for the depreciation of the Brazilian paper money, are less than half as large.

It will be seen that the average import price of coffee, obtained by dividing the value of the imports by their quantity, was 18.9 cents per pound for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1891, 20.4 cents per pound for the nine months ending March 31, 1892; 23 cents per pound for the remaining three months of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1892; and 28.1

cents per pound for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1893. * In the case of India rubber it would seem that the actual level of prices, as measured in gold, ranged considerably higher during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1891, than during the first nine months of the fiscal year following; but there is a sharp advance in the figures on average import price when we come to the three months ending June 30, 1892. The market prices for the several periods covered in the table would, no doubt, differ more or less when reduced to a gold basis, but it is evident that the difference shown by a comparison between the nine months immediately preceding and the fifteen months following the entry into effect of the new regulation communicated to custom-house and consular officers by the two circulars already referred to was mainly due to the fact that the values of coffee and India rubber arriving at our ports before the new regulation took effect were reduced to their real equivalents in United States money, whereas after that time importers, more or less generally, were taking advantage of the option allowed them by that regulation and leaving collectors of customs to reduce milreis to dollars, not at their actual depreciated value as they were reduced when that depreciated value was certified by our consular officers at the Brazilian ports of shipment, but at the value of the gold milreis. The value of that coin is 54.6 cents, whereas the value of the paper milreis, in which the prices of the goods were really invoiced, averaged for the three months ending June 30, 1892, only 22.3 cents, and for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1893, only 24.3 cents.

No estimate as to the extent of the overvaluation during the last three months of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1892, has been offered by the Bureau of Statistics. The rise for that quarter in the import price of coffee-which is the principal item-was only 12.7 per cent as compared with one of 37.7 per cent when the figures for the fiscal year 1892-'93 are compared with those for the first nine months of the previous fiscal year. The rise in the import price of India rubber for the same three months was 90.1 per cent; and assuming that this, as well as the rise of 12.7 per cent in coffee, is due to overvaluation,§ the

*On page 6 of the Summary Statement of Imports and Exports for July, 1893, the average is given as 29.2 cents, but the average obtained by dividing the value by the quantity appears to be 28.1 cents, as here stated.

It is probable that the new regulation took effect as to some consignments a little before the end of March, 1892, but we can not err very much in taking the 1st of April, 1892, as a date from and after which it may be considered to have been in effect.

It would seem, from the smallness of the rise in coffee as compared with that in India rubber during the three months ending June 30, 1892, that shippers of the latter article took advantage of their option more promptly than shippers of the former.

Upon this supposition the inequality of the overvaluation for the two articles would imply that during the three months in question the shippers of India rubber, as already suggested, took advantage more generally than the shippers of coffee of the option allowed them under the new customs regulation of February, 1892.

total overvaluation on the imports of these two articles from Brazil would be over $5,500,000. It is, therefore, probable that the overvaluation of imports for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1892, due to the failure to exact during its last quarter a consular certificate as to the depreciation of foreign paper currencies, amounted in all to considerably more than this sum.

The most conservative estimate of the extent of the overvaluation for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1893, could hardly give less than the $75,000,000 at which it is placed by the Chief of the Bureau of Statistics; for it is obvious from an examination of the figures in Table XI, in connection with those which show the average value of the milreis for that time to have been 24.3 cents, or only about 44.5 per cent of its par value, that by far the larger part of this estimated total is furnished by the overvaluation for Brazil alone on the two items of coffee and India rubber.

It is gratifying to know that, in the interest of statistical accuracy, the Secretary of the Treasury has issued instructions practically restoring the old requirement in regard to the values of depreciated foreign currencies and directing that values stated in such currencies shall be reduced to their actual equivalent in United States coin at the time when the goods were shipped whose values are so stated. This has, of course, been all along required in the case of goods subject to ad valorem duties, as a necessary means of ascertaining the amount of duty to be paid, but it is now again required in the case of those goods which were affected by the regulation of February, 1892.

SPECIAL CAUSES FOR INCREASE OF CERTAIN IMPORTS.

In the case of some articles, or classes of articles, of which our imports for the last fiscal year were not only apparently, but really larger than those of the same articles for the fiscal year 1891-192, the fact, as we shall presently see, is readily traceable to the operation of some special cause.

The table on the following page shows the articles, or classes of articles, in respect to which the difference between the imports for the two years in question, as shown by the published official figures, was more than $1,000,000.

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TABLE XII.-Imports during the fiscal years ending June 30, 1893 and 1892, respectively of articles, or classes of articles, of which the increase or the decrease exceeded one million dollars in value.

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The increase of $13,491,130 in the value of imports of coffee free of duty, in spite of a decrease of 91,075,977 pounds in the quantity imported, has already been explained in connection with the figures given in Table XI as to our imports of that article from Brazil. And, while Brazil supplies us with the bulk of our coffee,* there are other countries having depreciated currencies from which we import more or less of that article, and whose shipments to us have, therefore-assuming that shippers took advantage of the option allowed them-been overvalued, though, perhaps, in a smaller proportion than those received from Brazil.

* In the fiscal year ending June 30, 1892, nearly 72 per cent of the entire quantity imported came from that country.

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