CANADIAN COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES IN ARGENTINE
AN ADDRESS BY MR. JORGE MITRE
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
November 28, 1918
I can find no better form in which to express my high appreciation of the privilege extended to me to address this distinguished body of representatives of Canadian Finance and Commerce, than by confining my observations strictly to the existing business relations with my country and the possibilities of their extension in the future.
The volume of trade between Canada and Argentina cannot be precisely determined by official statistics, in as much as where goods are shipped from foreign ports, the source of origin is usually given as that of the country whence the ships come. Therefore, as most of the Canadian exports to Argentina are consigned from American ports, they figure in our official returns as "Imports from the United States." Indeed, it has frequently happened that although your shipments to the Argentine have been of sufficient importance to warrant a separate classification, the direct exports have been so small in quantity and value as to cause their inclusion in the generic description of "Imports from Other Countries." It may consequently be of interest to those of your people to whom the facts are not ordinarily available, to know that, notwithstanding the high cost and scarcity of ocean freight during the War, and last year
Mr. Mitre is proprietor of the largest newspaper in South America, published in Buenos Aires. He is thoroughly informed with regard to the conditions of trade in Argentine, and believes that there is a large field for Canadian trade there.
in particular, not alone has there been a large increase in the money value of your exports to the Argentine Republic. but also a considerable expansion of the variety of lines exported.
It may also interest you to know that the Argentine Government recently established a permanent exhibition of National Dairy Products in the heart of the City of Buenos Aires, and that amongst all the different classes of dairy machinery on view, the only hand and power separators exhibited, are those produced by a firm of manufacturers in Hamilton. Formerly the exports from Canada to Argentina were more or less limited to agricultural machinery, pulp and paper, I myself being an extensive importer-though at present not extensive enough-of the latter commodity. During the past year, however, your list of exports has been extended, I learn from official reports, to rubber goods, automobile and bicycle accessories, electric cable and Acetylene gas plants. But this list by no means exhausts your sources of supply. Normally, there should be a great demand for your timber, especially cedar and pine; and for your canned and dried fish which will bear favourable comparison both in price and quality with the similar products of other countries.
Per contra, the Argentine Republic produces many articles which should find a ready market in Canada and so create a reciprocal basis for an international trade. Amongst our products suitable for export to Canada, are wool, quebracho, extract of quebracho, sugar and wine. In regard to our wine, I may say that its production will at no distant date constitute one of our main industries. The characteristics of the soil in our wine-producing districts, the quality of the grape and the skill applied to the manufacture of the wine, which is naturally fortified, brings it at least as near the excellence of the product of the vineyards of France as the wine of any other country and at a cost which places it within the reach of all classes. Prior to the outbreak of war, the exports of Argentine wines were beginning to assume large proportions.
I direct attention to these particular matters because they indicate, in some measure, the possibilities of a great interchange of commerce between our two countriespossibilities, increased from our point of view by a feeling of sincere friendship for Canada and for the Canadian people. Nor is there any reason to doubt that with such an increased exchange of trade, there could also grow up large and mutually beneficial financial relations, looking at the extent of Canada's resources and the alreadv wide ramifications of her financial institutions. The question is, how the trade results are to be obtained? I do not suggest that the volume of business now transacted would justify the establishment of a direct service of steamers between Canadian and Argentine ports, but it seems to me that it would be a profitable operation to make direct shipments as often as possible, and as return cargoes would be assured, there would naturally be a great saving both in time and money and at the same time a greater incentive to an increased interchange of commerce. There are also other means of cementing the commercial relations of the two countries and one of them is by personal intercourse and personal investigation of conditions. Canada is already represented in the Argentine Republic by a Trade Commissioner, whose reports, I am informed, are very able and complete, but it would certainly strengthen the value of that official's services if a Commission of Canadian bankers and manufacturers would emulate the example of other great countries and organize a personal visit to the Argentine Republic to examine for themselves the great possibilities existing. Such a visit would be productive of solid benefit to both countries and would be cordially welcomed by the Argentine Government and people. Speaking for myself, and for the paper I have the honour to direct, I can assure you of a measure of hospitality as warm and as genuine as that which has been so cheerfully and so kindly shown to me on my visits to the different cities of this vast Dominion.