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Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce.


The Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce was created by the legislative, executive, and judicial appropriation act approved August 23, 1912, which consolidated under that name the Bureau of Manufactures and the Bureau of Statistics. This action by Congress was predicated on a suggestion emanating from the Department, which in September, 1907, appointed a committee to inquire into its statistical work, and this committee after a very extensive inquiry recommended "that the Bureau of Manufactures and the Bureau of Statistics be consolidated into one bureau; and that the bureau thus formed be called the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce."

Bureau of Manufactures. - The Bureau of Manufactures was authorized by section of the act of February 14, 1903 (the organic act of the Department), in response to a demand which had long since grown persistent for a Government office to be especially charged with the duty of fostering, promoting, and developing the manufacturing industries of the United States. The Bureau was organized in 1904 and at once commenced to build up in great part the service described on succeeding pages.

Bureau of Statistics. - The Bureau of Statistics, before being merged into the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, had had almost a century of development.

The value of the systematic and careful collection of information concerning the status of our commerce was recognized early in our history; and, in response to resolutions of Congress, the Secretary of the Treasury made frequent reports on the subject, which were subsequently collected and published in two volumes of the American State Papers.

By act of Congress approved February 10, 1820, the regular collection and publication of statistics of our foreign commerce was undertaken. This information was gathered through the collectors of customs, and there was organized in the Treasury Department a division commerce and navigation, which collated and published the information thus obtained. Joint resolution of Congress of June 15, 1844, authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to direct the collecting, arranging, and classifying of statistical information showing cash year the condition of agriculture and domestic trade, and to report on these subjects annually.

By act approved July 28, 1866, the Bureau of Statistics, with a Director, was established in the Treasury Department. The former division of commerce and navigation was consolidated with the Bureau of Statistics, and a broad range of subjects upon which to compile statistics was prescribed. The act of July 20, 1868, abolished the office of Director, provided that the Special Commissioner of the Revenue should superintend the Bureau, and provided for a Deputy Special Commissioner to have charge of the Bureau of Statistics. The office of Special Commissioner of the Revenue expired July 1, 1870, and the title of Chief of Bureau of Statistics was given to the officer in charge and afterwards authorized by law.

The work of the Bureau of Statistics was enlarged by act of March 3, 1875, and statistics relating to the internal commerce of the country were published from that year until 1912 under special appropriations.

The old law of 1820 omitted statistics relating to exports other than that borne in vessels, but the act, of March 3, 1893, amending section I of the act of July 16, 1892, remedied this by providing for statistics of exports of commodities by railways and land carriages. By act approved April 29, 1902, the work of the Bureau was extended to include statistics of commerce with Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Philippine Islands, Guam, and other noncontiguous territory.

Bureau of Foreign Commerce in the State Department. - By the act of February 14, 1903 (the organic act of the Department), the Bureau of Statistics was transferred from the Treasury Department to the new Department, from and after July 1, 1903. The same act provided also for the transfer of the Bureau of Foreign Commerce from the State Department and for its consolidation with the Bureau of Statistics, the two to constitute one bureau to be called the Bureau of Statistics. By authority of section II of the act the Bureau of Trade Relations was organized in the State Department for the formulation and transmission of correspondence between the new Department and consular officers.

The Bureau of Foreign Commerce was, until July 1, 1897, the Bureau of Statistics of the Department of State. Owing to the confusion arising from the fact that there was also a Bureau of Statistics in the Treasury Department and a Division of Statistics in the Department of Agriculture, Congress authorized the change of the name to Bureau of Foreign Commerce on July 1, 1897, this name more clearly indicating the functions of the Bureau.

The Bureau had its origin in an act of Congress approved August 16, 1842, which made it the duty of the Secretary of State "to lay before Congress, annually, at the commencement of its session, in a compendious form, all such changes and modifications in the commercial systems of other nations, whether by treaties, duties on imports and exports, or other regulations, as shall have come to the knowledge of the Department." In a communication to the President of the Senate, February 4, 1857 (Ex. Doc. No. 35, 34th Cong., 3d sess.), Secretary of State Marcy called attention to a previous statement (in 1855) in which he said that "but three attempts had been made to comply with the requisitions of the act of 1842; the first by Mr. Secretary Webster in 1842, the second by Mr. Secretary Upshur in 1843, and the third, and last, by Mr. Secretary Calhoun in 1844." Mr. Webster, in 1842, recommended to Congress that the work "be intrusted to one person, under the direction of the Department, who should arrange and condense information on commercial subjects from time to time, as it should be received, and should have charge of the correspondence on these subjects with agents of the Government abroad."

No action was taken by Congress until 14 years later. By an act approved August 18, 1856 (11 Stat., 62), the act of 1842 was amended so as to make it obligatory upon the Secretary of State, in addition to changes and modifications in the commercial systems of other nations, to include in his annual report to Congress "all other commercial information communicated to the State Department by consular and diplomatic agents of this Government abroad, or contained in the official publications of other Governments, which he shall deem sufficiently important.'' It was further declared to be the duty of consuls and commercial agents to procure such, information in such manner and at such times as the Department of state might prescribe, and the Secretary of State was "authorized and required to appoint one clerk who shall have charge of statistics in said department and shall he called 'Superintendent of Statistics.'"

"Thus,'' says Secretary Marcy, in his letter of February 4, 1857, "the 'Statistical Office of the Department of State,' which had been organized two years before for the preparation of a general Report on the Commercial Relations of the United States with Foreign Nations, in answer to a resolution of the House of Representatives was, by that law, placed on a permanent basis.''

The ''Bureau 0f Statistics'' was substituted for the "Statistical Office" July 1, 1874, under authority conferred by the legislative, executive, and judicial appropriation act of June 20, 1874, in an item providing a salary of $2,400 each for six chiefs of bureau, including one of Statistics.

Until October 1, 1880, the duties of the Bureau were restricted to the preparation of annual and occasional reports from consular officers, but on that date the publication of the monthly Consular Reports was begun, in pursuance of a recommendation of Secretary of State Evarts, in response to which Congress, at the previous session, had made provision "for printing and distributing more frequently the publications by the Department of State of the consular and other reports." The daily publication of consular reports was begun January 1, 1898, by order of the Secretary of State of December 7, 1897. From July 1, 1905, the publication was known as "Daily Consular and Trade Reports," but since January 1, 1915, it has borne the name "Commerce Reports."

Work of the Bureau.

Broadly, the function of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce is to promote commerce and manufacturing by collecting and distributing information for the use and benefit of commercial interests. In carrying out this function advantage is taken of the relations of the Bureau with many other branches of the Federal service.

Consular reports. - Use is made especially of the Consular Service, through the Department of State, to obtain reports on the current development of the trade of foreign countries and opportunities for the sale abroad of articles produced in the United States. This material is edited in the Bureau and distributed to the commercial public by means of the daily Commerce Reports and supplements thereto, and also by means of special bulletins and pamphlets and confidential circulars or letters.

Commercial attachés. - The Bureau's facilities for studying foreign markets for American goods have been greatly increased recently by the appointment of commercial attachés to represent the Department of Commerce in the more important commercial countries. These attachés are accredited to the embassies and legations of the United States in the capitals of the countries to which they are assigned. They will devote all their time to the study of commercial problems and will report the results of their investigations to the Bureau for publication in Commerce Reports or in monograph form. These reports, in general, will be supplemental to those now sent in by the consuls and commercial agents. Commercial attachés are now stationed at London, England; Paris, France; Petrograd, Russia; Berlin, Germany; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Lima, Peru; Peking, China; and Melbourne, Australia.

Commercial agents. - Further, the Bureau is equipped with a corps of field agents, called commercial agents, who supplement the work of consular officers through special investigations for which they are fitted by training or experience in various branches of commerce. These special investigations cover a wide range of subjects, such as the trade in cotton textiles, cottonseed products, machinery, lumber, boots and shoes and other leather goods, chemical products, and other articles of domestic manufacture or export. A special force of commercial agents has been assigned to Latin America, and the work of these investigators is supervised by a special staff at the Bureau in Washington- the Latin American Division.

Foreign tariffs. - To supplement this volume of commercial information there are distributed accurate statements concerning the customs tariffs of foreign countries , a work which is carried on currently by the Division of Foreign Tariffs. Not only are translations of these tariffs made and published at frequent intervals, but through consular reports and from other official sources there is maintained a record of the existing regulations with respect to customs charges in all foreign countries.

The publications of the Bureau issued in the tariff series usually present either a complete tariff of a particular country or the rates on a particular group of articles as applied in various countries. Recent publications of the latter nature are Tariff Series Nos. 29 and 30, which set forth the duties on office appliances and on motor vehicles and accessories, respectively, in all foreign countries. As far as possible these published editions of foreign tariffs are revised to date, and, in addition, changes in foreign tariffs are noted in Commerce Reports and are reprinted in special pamphlets entitled "Foreign Tariff Notes." The Bureau, by virtue of its close relations with American consular officers, and its files of the current official publications of foreign countries, possesses exceptional facilities for keeping informed as to tariff rates and customs formalities incident to the entry of goods into foreign countries.

The tariff work of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce is not rigidly restricted to customs duties and customs regulations. The Division of Foreign Tariffs of the Bureau gives attention also to closely allied subjects affecting our foreign commerce, such as the internal-revenue laws of foreign countries, the regulations for commercial travelers soliciting business abroad, and the requirements of foreign countries for consular invoices, merchandise marks, standards of purity, and the like. The United States diplomatic and consular officers report on these subjects, and translators and other assistants in the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce examine carefully the official publications of the foreign Governments in order that all information regarding foreign tariffs and these allied subjects may be kept up to date.

Commercial statistics. - Statistical information in regard to imports and exports is received by the Bureau in monthly and quarterly returns from the collectors of customs, showing the principal articles imported and exported, stating quantities where possible and values in all cases; the countries from which each article or group of articles was imported and to which each article or group of articles was exported. These statements are printed primarily in the Monthly Summary of Foreign Commerce and distributed to individuals and firms engaged in commerce, to commercial organizations, educational institutions, and libraries, and to such commercial and other newspapers of the country as may request the same.

The Monthly Summary also contains tables showing the principal articles forming the trade between the United States and its noncontiguous territories - Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Philippine Islands, Guam, and Tutuila.

Other tables of imports, much more complete in detail, are published quarterly, showing the quantity and value of the imports entered for consumption, the rate of duty, and the duty collected on each article or group of articles; and these quarterly statements are subsequently presented in the form of an annual statement. This statement of merchandise imported for consumption includes: (1) The merchandise entered for immediate consumption and duty paid upon its arrival at the port, and (2) merchandise withdrawn from warehouse for consumption on payment of duty. Merchandise entering the country and deposited in warehouse is not included in the statement of imports for consumption unless subsequently withdrawn from warehouse.

Annual statements of the commerce of the United States presenting trade movements in much greater detail than those of the Monthly Summary of Foreign Commerce are published in a volume entitled "Commerce and Navigation of the United States.'' This volume shows in great detail the trade by articles and countries, stating the countries from which each article or class of articles was imported and to which each article or class of articles was exported during a five-year period; also statements showing the movements of merchandise and gold and silver by customs districts, the imports for consumption, and other statements showing details of the trade movements with foreign countries.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States, a volume of about 700 pages, presents in condensed form statements regarding the commerce, production, industries, population, finance, currency, indebtedness, and wealth of the country, and includes in addition to the compilations made by the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce the more important statistical data compiled by other branches of the Government, and with this a condensed statement of the commerce of the principal foreign countries. It is published annually.

Specific opportunities to extend trade. - Specific opportunities for the extension of American trade, transmitted by consuls, are published in Commerce Reports under the title "Foreign trade opportunities." Notes relative to opportunities for the sale of American manufactures to the Federal Government are also published under the heading "Proposals for Government supplies."

Plans and specifications for public and private works in foreign countries, as well as samples of articles for which a demand has been or may be created, often accompany reports by consular officers, commercial attachés, and commercial agents. Announcement of the receipt of these is made in Commerce Reports, and circulation of them is made by the Bureau, in endeavor being made to reach as soon as possible the manufacturers likely to be interested.

The Bureau cooperates with representative trade organizations by conferences with their officers, by the use of membership lists for the distribution of confidential information, and by filing with them plans and specifications for work relating to the industry or industries represented by such organizations. Numerous individual requests for information from American manufacturers and exporters receive attention and endeavor is made to supply promptly all material in possession of the Bureau on a particular subject.

All of the trade information received is carefully indexed, and the Bureau has a record of reports on most lines of trade in foreign countries, and when requests for data on any particular line are received search is made through these records and all information available is furnished. If a subject regarding which information is sought is one of importance and interest to a number of concerns, such concerns are invited to submit a list of questions covering the facts desired, and these inquiries are sent to American consuls throughout the world. The results of these inquiries are subsequently published and distributed by the Bureau.

The bulletins and monographs of the Bureau on special statistical and commercial subjects now number several hundred, and cover a wide range of trade matters.

Trade directories. - The trade-directory work is an important branch of the Bureau's service to American exporters. In 1911 there was issued a "World Trade Directory," giving the names of importers in all countries of the world. This volume is now out of print, but may be consulted at the branch offices, which also have the revised lists that are constantly being received from consular officers. In 1914 the Bureau issued a revision of the South American section of the directory (428 pages), and the revision of the sections devoted to Central America and the West Indies is under way.

Branch offices. - The distribution work of the Bureau has been greatly facilitated by the establishment of branch offices in New York, 409 United States Customhouse; Boston, 752, Oliver Building; Chicago, 629 Federal Building; St. Louis, 402 Third National Bank Building; Atlanta, 521 Post Office Building; New Orleans, 1020 Hibernia Bank Building; San Francisco, 310 United States Customhouse; and Seattle, 922 Alaska Building. To these offices are sent the various publications of the Bureau, the reserved information in connection with foreign, trade opportunities, lists of foreign importers and dealers, copies of confidential circulars, manuscript consular reports, documents and exhibits accompanying reports, trade directories, and many other volumes relating to manufacture and commerce. Commercial organizations and individual firms in the respective districts served by these offices are kept informed of the material and information available.

Domestic trade development. - Although the law provides for the promotion and development of trade at home and abroad, work has thus far, in large measure, been devoted to recording and extending the foreign trade of the United States. The work of domestic commercial development is now being taken up actively, and is destined to become an extremely important branch of the service of the office.

The yearly exports of manufactures to foreign countries are now about 5 per cent of the total of 25,000 million dollars' worth produced in the United States annually. The factors of commercial promotion and development related to the domestic production, distribution, and consumption of manufactures which are of legitimate interest to the Bureau are very numerous and worthy of extensive investigation and publicity.

The Bureau has already entered this field with its commercial agents and will extend its researches and add to its publications as rapidly as practicable. Commercial and manufacturers' organizations have been studied, and a report has been published dealing with the promotive activities of 70 representative organizations. Commercial museums and expositions, commercial education, methods of distribution of manufactured products, standards of credit, quality and sources of raw materials, and similar subjects await study from the point of view of the Bureau, as outlined in the law.

Cost of production investigations. - The Bureau is charged with the duty of making investigations, at home and abroad, of the cost production of articles at the time dutiable in the United States, the profits of manufacturers, the wages and hours of labor in establishments producing such articles, and the comparative cost of living and kind of living. These investigations are undertaken whenever required by the President or by either House of Congress and when industrial changes make it essential.

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