Export Problems and Statistics
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Points of Interest From an Analytical Review of the Export Position by the Secretary of the Institute of Export
XPORT is now one of the most important functions of Lathe commercial-vehicle industry, and was dealt with very thoroughly in our Special Number of February 3. In view of the large share which our makers take in this business, some extracts from an article entitled "The Export Drive,' " by Mr. W. T. Day, secretary, the Institute of Export, and published in the Leather Trades Revieib of March 20, will be of interest.
Mr. Day points out that, by publication of the Command paper on the work of the Export Council, the first objective of the Institute of Export "to make this country exportminded" has been achieved, but the belated Government effort to induce the world overseas to consume more of Britain's manufactures may set up a little industrial indigestion.
The Government needs a minimum increase of £200,000,000 over the figure for 1938. Those acting on behalf of the Government have tended, in the past, when negotiating trade treaties, to consider mainly, if not entirely, the interests of the so-called basic or primary industries. Important as these have been, and are, they do not now hold the position they once held in our export trade. They are those that other countries have usually first sought to establish within their own borders. The future of our export trade lies more with the newer and more highly specialized manufactures, in which technical skill and efficiency are required, and in the production of which we have a greater relative advantage.
• Makers Must Put Their Houses 1st Order • Now, it is for the secondary industries to put their houses in order, to simplify consultations with the Government. As the Prime Minister said, those engaged in export must indicate to the Board of Trade (through the Export Council) the markets to which they wish to export and the programmes to be carried out in a given time. They must, in fact, stake out their claims. They want to be assured that, having done so, they will not be upset by the intervention of some other Department which may requisition something which they thought they had secured.
As Mr. Day sees it, the task before the country is: (a) to expedite delivery of those goods for which orders are already on manufacturers' desks; (b) to capture world markets formerly supplied by Germany., Czechoslovakia, Austria and Poland.
The Government's declared intention to ration raw materials in certain domestic industries has quickened the tempo. Now is the moment to assess our strength, survey our shortcomings and review our possibilities. Such decisions as the priority schedule in the supply of raw materials, on which, in the end, our export trade will largely depend, are being made by the Government, but this and other decisions can be better influenced by manufacturers if they have a clear-cut policy and an estimate of their export horizons.
The aim of the Government is to cause neutral traders the least possible inconvenience, and, far from blocking their trade, even to encourage them. A sign of this is the offer of the safety of British convoys.
• Replace German Supplies to the World Markets • A long-term export policy will probably be the means for shortening the war. Germany launched this war not in 1939, but in 1933. Almost at the moment of seizing power, the Nazi Government installed a war economy, which meant that no method was too unfair if it served the strangulation of the trade of others and helped the new German god— military preparation.
It is now of vital importance to us that British or Allied exports should take the place of German supplies in the world markets. Germany's whole exports (excluding Great Britain, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland) in 1937, when the countries since seized were still independent, amounted to about £410,000,000; Czechoslovakia's to £62,000,000; Poland's to Z27,000,000; Austria's to £33,000,000; making a grand total of £582,000,000.
Of this amount, roughly 48 per cent, went to markets from which they can be, and are being, intercepted by our
contraband control. The remainder went to countries neighbouring Germany Or easily reached without interference from our Navy. This means that we have a job of work demanding the complete mobilization of our productive resources, and export groups should be formed without delay in the secondary industries.
The first positive step in this direction is the organization by the Institute of Export of a special meeting to be held on April 4 at 5.30 p.m. in the Palmerston Restaurant, Bishopsgate, London, E.C.2. Applications for tickets should be made to the secretary, the Institute of Export, 11, Aldwych, London, W.C.2.