BRITISH TRADE RELATIONS WITH
SYNOPSIS OF AN ADDRESS BY SIR ROBERT DONALD,
G. B. E., LL.D., ETC.
9th May, 1929
SIR ROBERT expressed the opinion that there was little chance of British industry reconquering the markets of Continental Europe. He saw that a break would be made with Great Britain's fiscal traditions. We must, he said: Get into closer relations with the Dominions. While economic conferences pass resolutions in favour of lowering tariffs, delegates return home and vote for raising them. There are many more tariffs in Europe than there were in 1913 and they are all higher. The English people have not yet readjusted their perspective to the new situation. Economically the Continent of Europe is a collection of armed citadels against British goods.
We must turn more and more to the Dominions and the Empire. British manufacturers and merchants do not study the requirements in the Dominions or adapt themselves to Canadian conditions as they ought in our common interests to do. They should visit Canada more frequently, understand that Canadians have their own characteristics which we must recognize and conform to vour customs and methods. The businesslike and logical course is for them to establish branches in Canada, and place them in charge of men on the spot. The Canadian market is growing more rapidly than any market in the British Empire, and we should cultivate it to our mutual advantage.
We should have closer interchange in all directions. Our Government can help more than it does. It should, for instance, participate in your Canadian National Exhibition. I understand that the present intention of our Exhibition Branch is to concentrate on the Argentine this year. The Argentine is all right, but we should first cultivate trade with the Dominions, and I will do what I can to advocate participation in your Exhibition. (Cheers.)
I am convinced, Sir Robert continued, that we can greatly increase our trade with Canada if we go the right way about it. We have your sympathy (hear, hear), and you have ours. Sentiment does count for something in trade, especially if it is backed up by mutual understanding. You had a demonstration last year of sentimental preference in the exhibition of the Empire Marketing Board.
Out of the clouds of depression hovering over British industry, Sir Robert drew some very bright rays. The dyeing trade has reached a standard of efficiency that has made it supreme. While depression was still general in England, there were fortunate signs of revival.
The coal trade is not in the hopeless state which it appears to be. Apart from new processes for the utilization of coal, which are working successfully, what is wanted is the grouping of coal fields and better selling organization. With combined effort English coal can reconquer some of its lost markets.
With cheaper electric power generated at the pit heads and distributed over wide areas, there will be something like an industrial revolution. To ease the burden of taxation, the Baldwin Government proposes to relieve industry of seventy-five per cent. of local taxation. Americans realize the new opportunities for investment in England and are coming into our electrical and other industries. Great Britain itself in this, and in many other respects, is not by any means fully developed. We are only beginning to cultivate reciprocal trade with the Dominions and to develop the large number of colonies for which the British Government is responsible. Every year the Empire is becoming nearer to being self-sustaining for raw material, cotton, copper, tin and other products indispensable for industry.
Six ROBERT'S observations were accorded a full measure of support by members of the Club. In tendering thanks Mr. John A. Tory, president of the Board of Trade of Toronto, said that the Address was very timely in view of the tariff revisions projected by our neighbour to the South. There was none here today who did not believe that the future of Canada was tied up with the British Empire. From observation made as president of the Board of Trade he was able to assure Sir Robert that there is a movement in Ontario at the present time ditions of service in the permanent force are not such that will not be stopped until we have a greater Empire trade than is now in existence. (Cheers.)