TRADE ORGANIZATION. The development of commercial organization which attended the growth of trade and industry during the 19th century assumed two distinct phases. In the first we see the creation of associations of persons engaged in trade and industry for the purpose of protecting their interests and of facilitating and fostering commercial relations. In the second, governments elaborate departmental organizations for the supervision of commerial matters, and utilize their consular services as means of commercial intelligence and influence.
The associations belonging to the first category comprise three classes:
a. Those which are themselves engaged in trade, like ordinary joint-stock companies, or which result from the combination of firms or individuals in the same or connected trades, for the purpose of facilitating or restricting production, limiting competition, regulating prices, etc.
b. Those which, without engaging in trade, aim at providing facilities for the transaction of commercial or financial operations. They chiefly take the form of exchanges, bourses, public sale rooms, etc., such as the Baltic, Lloyd's, the Stock Exchange, the Corn and Coal Exchanges, the Commercial Sale Rooms.
c. Non-trading bodies, in the nature of public institutions, whose objects are to protect the interests of trade.
When, at the close of the 18th century and early in the igth, the power of the old trade gilds and corporations of merchants had been broken, both governments and commercial men soon realized that the ancient societies would not follow the commercial evolution, and that new organizations must be created to meet new requirements. Two systems were evolved, which, British and from their prototypes, are known as the British French and the French systems. In the former, trade Systems, organizations were left to develop themselves in their own way, and in whatever direction they might think fit, without any official interference. In the latter, on the contrary, the government constituted itself the creator of trade organizations, which it incorporated into the administrative system of the country, and to which it gave an official status as an integral part of the machinery of the state. The former have grown chiefly into associations for the promotion and defence of commercial interests, whilst the latter have mainly become sources of commercial information and means of action at the disposal of the government. While organizations on the British system are, as regards the government, purely advisory bodies whose opinion might or might not be asked in connexion with commercial matters, and whose duties are limited to the services which they are in a position to render to their members and to commerce generally, organizations on the French system not only must be consulted, in certain specified cases, by the government, especially in connexion with the drafting of commercial legislation and of regulations affecting trade, but they have also administrative duties to perform, such as the control of public commercial institutions, of testing, standardizing and conditioning establishments, port and dock works, etc. The British system obtains in the United Kingdom and the British colonies, in the United States and in Belgium, while the French has been adopted in most European countries, and in Japan.
I. GREAT BRITAIN AND COLONIES A. Commercial Associations.
In the United Kingdom commercial associations arose with the growth of trade, without any assistance from the state and free from all government restriction or control. The first in point of date were the " commercial societies " which were formed, chiefly during the last quarter of the 18th century, in Birmingham, Exeter, Halifax, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, and which exercised a not unimportant influence upon commercial developments at the close of the 18th and in the early years of the 1pth centuries. The modern associations which superseded them divided themselves into four classes, viz:
a. Chambers of commerce and associations which aim at becoming representative of general commercial interests; 6. Associations or institutes which represent particular trades or branches of trades; c. Trade protection societies, which look after the interests of retail as well as wholesale traders, and undertake to supply them with information as to the standing and credit of firms, expose swindlers, collect debts, etc. ; and d. Non-representative associations rendering general commercial services.
a. Chambers of Commerce and General Associations. Most of the chambers of commerce in the United Kingdom were formed during the latter half of the loth century, although a few were in existence much earlier. The oldest British chamber is the Jersey chamber, which dates from 1768. The Glasgow chamber was founded in 1783. Dublin followed in 1785, Edinburgh in 1786, Manchester in 1794, Belfast in 1796, Birmingham in 1813, Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1818, Liverpool in 1851, Sheffield in 1857, etc. The London chamber was the last of the chambers of importance to be established; it dates only from 1881.
The London Chamber of Commerce, which has over 3000 members, is one of the most representative associations of its kind, and the organization adopted has been very effective in securing _ this. The chamber has been divided into trade sections, ' " e Loaaoa of which there are at present forty-four, and members specify the sections to which they desire to belong. Each section has a separate organization, and is presided over by a chairman elected by itself, who may be helped by an elected committee if found advisable. The general council of the chamber confirms the election of chairmen of sections, and no action can be taken by the chamber on the recommendation of a section without authorization of the council. The chamber has placed itself in connexion with a number of mercantile associations which, whilst preserving their separate organizations and their independence of action, have found it advantageous to work in conjunction with it, either for general or for particular purposes, and to have a voice in its council. The more important of these are the Institute of Bankers, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Society of Accountants and Auditors, the General Ship Owners' Society, the General Produce Brokers' Association, the Federation of Grocers' Associations of the United Kingdom, the West India Committee, the Corn Trade Association, the United Planters' Association of Southern India, etc.
Particular reference should also be made to the Liverpool chamber, which, as regards division into trade sections and co-operation with independent associations, works on similar lines Thf to those of the London chamber. The African trade , . .
section of the Liverpool chamber has been prominent chamber in connexion with African questions, and since its foundation in 1884 has been the leading voice in all matters relating to West Africa.
The Association of Chambers of Commerce of the United Kingdom, which was formed in 1860, contributed much to give chambers of commerce as a whole a national importance. This association, like the chambers themselves, was of course **? &tioa purely voluntary, and at its foundation only sixteen t C J* chambers decided to join it. The association is maintained by an annual subscription from the constituent chambers. It has been instrumental in passing many useful acts of parliament, and in otherwise influencing legislation upon commercial topics. The general meetings, which are held annually in March, in London, and at which delegates are present from all parts of the country, have come to be considered as a kind of parliament of trade, and representatives of the Board of Trade, the general post office, and the foreign and colonial offices are generally in attendance. Special meetings take place in September, and are held in provincial towns on the invitation of the local chamber.
The association has limited its work to the United Kingdom, and has not taken advantage of the commercial development of the colonies to afford colonial interests an opportunity of voicing their needs in the metropolis. To supply this need the London Chamber of Commerce has, from time to time, organized congresses of chambers of commerce of the empire. Some of these congresses have been held in the colonies, the first being at Montreal in 1903.
The home organization of chambers of commerce is supplemented by a few British chambers which have been established in foreign countries. These institutions are self-supporting, and not, as seems often to be thought, branches of, or subsidized Chambers Qr ,-ontrolled by home chambers. The British Chamber Abroad. Q j Commerce in Paris, which is the oldest of them, dates from 1 873, and was originally established by British merchants in Paris for the defence of their own trade interests. Its scope soon extended, however, arid it admitted to membership British firms trading with France although not resident in France, and in course of time became representative of general British commercial interests in the French markets. Other British chambers are tobefoundinGenoa, Alexandria, Barcelona, Constantinople and St Petersburg. In Brussels'an Anglo-American chamber jointly represents British and American interests. Several countries are represented in London by chambers of commerce, while the American Chamber (Liverpool), the Anglo-Belgian, the Anglo-Portuguese, the Australasian, the Italian, the Norwegian and the Swedish Chambers la c h am bers are members of the Association of Chambers Eaglaad. of Commerce of the United Kingdom. The United States are represented in England by the American Chamber of Commerce in Liverpool.
Commercial organization in the colonies is very much on the same footing as it is in the United Kingdom. The most representa... . live associations are the chambers of commerce, whose constitution and functions are similar to those of the "*' British chambers. In Canada the chambers, which are also sometimes called Boards of Trade, after the American custom, number over sixty, the most important being the Montreal and Toronto Boards of Trade and the Quebec Chamber of Commerce. The Canadian chambers have no association, but hold periodical conferences. There is, in addition, the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, with headquarters in Toronto and branches in all the provinces, which incorporates all the associations of manufacturers in the Dominion. The Australian chambers of commerce, which number some thirty, have joined into an association called the General Council of the Chambers of Commerce of the Commonwealth of Australia. In New Zealand, South Africa, India and many British colonies there are chambers of commerce in all the more important towns.
6. Associations Representing Particular Trades. Associations representative of particular trades are almost innumerable. The London General Shipowners' Society, the Liverpool Shipowners' Association, the North of England Shipowners' and Steamship Owners' Associations may be mentioned as representative. The chambers of shipping and shipowners' associations joined forces in 1878 in order to establish the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom, which does for them what the Association of Chambers of Commerce does for chambers of commerce. The Iron and Steel Institute affords a means of communication between members of the iron and steel trades, while the British Iron Trade Association is one of the most powerful. The nature of other associations is sufficiently indicated by their titles. In addition there are the Cotton Association, the Drapers' Chamber of Trade, the Fish Trade Association, the Sugar Refiners' Committee, various tea planters' associations, the Oil Seed Association, the Petroleum Defence Committee, the Mansion House Association on Railway and Canal Traffic, etc.
c. Trade Protection Societies. These seem to be, on the vhole, more ancient bodies than chambers of commerce. In the early part of the 19th century they were already strongly organized, especially in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Outside of that district the Dublin Society was the most important. They number more than 100 throughout the United Kingdom.
The Manchester Guardian Society, which dates from 1826, occupies a position of special prominence in the Midlands, and may be taken as the model of such associations. Its objects are-ythe making of private inquiries as to the respectability and credit of traders, the detection and exposure of swindlers; the collection of debts; the winding-up of insolvent estates; the issue of notices of bills of sale, judgments, bankruptcies, etc. ; and generally the improvement of laws and regulations affecting trade. The society has over 6000 members, and its usefulness may be gauged by the fact that it answers an average of 40,000 credit inquiries every year.
Trade protection societies formed themselves, as early as 1848, into an association, which was at first an association of secretaries, but in 1865 was transformed into an association of societies. The association issues a quarterly journal called the Trade Protection Journal.
B State Departmental Organizations.
Although the British government allowed commercial organizations within its jurisdiction to grow independently of official control, it does not follow that it took no interest in the protection and promotion of British trade and the dissemination of commercial intelligence. As long ago as the reign of Charles II. the body which is now the British equivalent of what is known in most countries as the ministry of commerce, viz. the board of trade, was established. The commercial jurisdiction of the Board of Trade does not extend beyond the limits of the United Kingdom, but the Foreign Office, through the negotiation of commercial treaties and by means of the consular body, came into touch with international trade. With the development of the colonies, the colonial and India offices also found themselves called upon to act, to a certain extent, as guardians of commercial rights and channels for the dissemination of commercial intelligence. But when competition began to displace British goods from foreign markets, and when the British trader noticed the efforts which were being made by foreign governments for the promotion of trade, he came to the conclusion that the British government was not doing anything for him.
Complaints were especially loud against the consuls, who were accused of systematically disregarding commercial interests, whilst their American, German, French and Belgian colleagues _ . did not consider it below their dignity to take advantage servlc of their position, in order to promote the trade of the country they represented. British Consular Reports were also unfavourably compared with those issued by foreign consuls, notably the American. The result was that, in 1886, instructions were issued to the consular service which, for the completeness and fairness with which they deal with the subject, have frequently been quoted as models which might advantageously be followed (see Parliamentary Paper, Commercial, No. 16, 1886). The preparation of consular reports, however, continued to be most unfavourably criticised, and frequent instructions were issued by the foreign office in regard to them. The whole question was raised again in 1896, when, as the result of lengthy communications between the Foreign Office on the one hand, and the Association of Chambers of Commerce and the London chamber on the other, fresh instructions were sent to British consuls, reiterating the instructions of 1886.
The consular service has of late years been supplemented by the appointment of commercial attachds.
The pressure exercised by the chambers of commerce upon the government led to the appointment in 1897 of a departmental committee on the dissemination of commercial intelligence, which was charged with considering means of Commercial more adequately supplying traders with commercial Intelligence information, of improving consular and colonial reports, the Board ot and with reporting on the advisability of appointing f ra( j ei commercial agents to the colonies and establishing a commercial intelligence office. The chief result of the committee's recommendations was the establishment of the commercial intelligence branch of the Board of Trade. It publishes the Board of Trade Journal weekly. Attached to the branch is an advisory committee, composed of representatives of the various government departments and of the Association of Chambers of Commerce.
The scope of the commercial intelligence branch was further increased, and its means of action strengthened, by the transfer of the Imperial Institute to the Board of Trade, which was effected in 1902 by the passing of a private act of parliament.
The self-governing colonies are represented in London by agentsgeneral (g.f.), while the commercial interests of the crown colonies are in the hands of the crown agents for the colonies.
II. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A. Commercial Associations.
American trade organizations have been developed mainly on the lines of the British system. Of the associations which come within the scope of this article, the most important are the chambers of commerce, which in certain cases are called boards of trade. Theoretically there is a distinction between the two, chambers of commerce being entrusted with the protection of general commercial interests, especially in connexion with foreign trade, whilst boards of trade look after local commercial questions. But in practice the difference is of no importance, as chambers of commerce take cognisance of local as well as international trade matters, and the boards of trade in no way limit the Sphere of their activity to purely American questions.
The oldest American commercial organization is the New York Chamber of Commerce, which was founded in 1768, and incorporated by royal charter in 1770. In the words of its charter, its object was " to carry into execution, encourage and promote by just and lawful ways and means such measures as will tend to promote and extend just and lawful commerce." It was the prototype of all i the other chambers of commerce and boards of trade which have since been established in the United States, and which are said to exceed 1000 in number. American trade organizations are associated in a National Board of Trade, which corresponds to the Association of Chambers ot Commerce of the United Kingdom. The objects of this institution are to secure unity and harmony of action in reference to commercial questions, and to obtain, through its representative character, more satisfactory consideration of the matters which it brings under the notice either of the Federal government or of the local state administrations. The expenses of the National Board of Trade are defrayed out of a fund formed by the subscriptions of the various associations belonging to it. The United Sytates has a number of chambers of commerce established in foreign countries. The first institution of this kind was started so long ago as 1801, when the American Chamber of Commerce in Liverpool \yas established. This chamber is the only one representing American commercial interests in the United Kingdom, there being no association of this nature in London. The American Chamber of Commerce in Paris is one cf the most active, important and representative foreign associations on the continent of Europe. In some places where neither the American nor the British element is strong enough to maintain separate associations (notably in Brussels), they have joined hands to support an Anglo-American Chamber of Commerce, which is found to work fairly satisfactorily The American commercial museums, although of recent foundation, have attracted much notice owing to the practical and businesslike manner in which they are conducted, and are considered to be among the best equipped institutions of this nature. Those in Philadelphia and at San Francisco are the best known. The Philadelphia museum, which came first and is better known, was established by an ordinance of the municipality in 1894, and is supported by subscriptions and by municipal subsidies, administered by a board of trustees, who are appointed for life and serve without remuneration. The work of the museum is supervised by an advisory board, composed of representatives of the principal commercial organizations in the United States. Its objects are to assist American manufacturers and merchants in securing wider foreign markets for their products, to aid them in forming connexions abroad, and to bring foreign buyers in touch with them. One of the chief ways in which this Is done is by means of an index file of foreign customers supplied to American manufacturers, and vice versa. In addition to the regular service to members, the museum also maintains abroad, in various cities, index files covering some sixty American trades or trade divisions, containing the names of American manufacturers of standing, with full particulars of their various lines of manufacture. These files are generally entrusted to chambers of commerce, or similar commercial institutions, and are placed gratuitously at the disposal of foreign manufacturers and merchants. The Philadelphia museum has also a most valuable library and a museum of samples.
B. Slate Departmental Organization.
The American state organization for dealing with commercial matters lacks the theoretical completeness of the organization of most European states, but is nevertheless found to give satisfaction. Official control is exercised through various bureaus placed, for the most part, under the treasury department. The most important of these are: the interstate commerce commission, which deals with matters affecting the inland trade; the industrial commission, which looks chiefly after manufacturing; and the fishery bureau. Foreign commercial matters come within the cognisance of the bureau of foreign commerce, a section of the state department which also controls the consular body, and sees to the publication of their reports and to the dissemination of foreign commercial intelligence. The state department corresponds to the British foreign office.
The Pan-American Union, until 1910 called the Bureau of American Republics, was established in 1889, as a result of the PanAmerican Conference called together in that year by the late James G. Elaine, secretary of state at that time. This bureau, which had its office in Washington, is supported by a contribution from all the republics of North, Central and South America, which is fixed at the rate of 1000 dollars a year per million inhabitants. Its object is the dissemination of trustworthy commercial information concerning the republics of the American continent, and in pursuance of this object it has issued a large variety of publications.
The American consular service has been frequently pointed out as a model to be followed in connexion with commercial matters. Consular America, contrary to the European practice, has no Service. consuls de carriere. Her consular representatives are appointed for a period of, as a rule, four years, and are selected in preference from commercial circles. Their work, as compared with that of British consuls, is rather limited, and they have nothing to monopolize their time like the shipping interests with which the British consular body is entrusted in most countries. Since 1898 the bureau of foreign commerce issues consular reports daily, as fast as they are received, and circulates them in advance sheets, printed on one side of the paper only, like printers' proofs. They are afterwards republished in permanent form.
The American consular body, which numbers some 400 members, and is exclusively composed of American citizens, is distributed according to the commercial importance of towns.
III. FRANCE A. Commercial Associations.
The French government was the- first to elaborate a regular system of trade organizations, which it endeavoured to make as complete as possible. This system comprises:
a. Chambers of commerce; b. Consultative chambers of arts and manufactures; and c. Syndical chambers of trade and industry.
a. Chambers of Commerce. Chambers of commerce owe their origin to the city of Marseilles, where, in 1599, the town council, which had hitherto looked after the commercial interests Q t . of the city, found it no longer possible to combine commercial with municipal functions, and established an association which it called the " Chamber of Commerce " to take up the commercial part of its duties. This seems to be the first time that the title was used. The new chamber soon became a most important body, and in 1650, during the minority of Louis XIV., lettres patentes were granted to it. It settled the law merchant and the customs of the port, was entrusted with the appointment of consuls and the control of French consulates in the Levant, fitted out expeditions against corsairs, owned fleets, sent embassies to the Barbaresque countries, organized commercial missions, etc. Its ordinary budget, at one time, amounted to over one million livres. Louis XIV. conceived the idea of a system of organizations which, whilst not being allowed to become so dangerously powerful as that of Marseilles, would nevertheless be useful in other towns, and in 1700 he caused an arrete to be published, ordering the creation of chambers of commerce, which were entrusted with the nomination of deputies to the Royal Council of Commerce which had just been created in Paris. Chambers were consequently established in Lyons, Rouen, Toulouse, Montpellier, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Lille, Bayonne, Amiens, etc. These bodies, however, did not exercise much influence under the monarchy. Including the Marseilles chamber, they were suppressed, with all trade gilds and other trade associations, in 1789. Napoleon re-established the chambers by decree of the 24th of December 1802, and endowed them with a constitution similar, in essential particulars, to the one they have at present, which has served as a model for chambers of commerce on the Continent, but he submitted them to a uniform and narrow administrative jurisdiction which practically deprived them of all initiative.
They are now regulated by the law of the gth of April 1898, which codified, altered and completed previous legislation on the subject. Under this law, chambers of commerce can only be established by a decree countersigned by the minister of commerce, upon the advice of the municipal council of the place where the chamber is to be, of the general council of the department, and of the existing chambers of commerce of the district. The members of chambers of commerce used to be elected by the " Notables Commercants," who were a body of commercial electors selected by the prefects in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Commerce. They were abolished by law in 1871, but those who were then entitled to the designation still continue to use it, which explains the words " Notable Commercant," so puzzling to foreigners in French commercial directories and on French business cards. At present, commercial houses paying patente which is a special tax upon people engaged 'in trade elect the members of the chamber, the number of whom is fixed for each chamber by the minister of commerce.
Their functions, which are consultative and administrative, are set out in part ii. of the law of 1898. The government is bound to take their opinion regarding the regulation of com- F aac aons. mercial usages, the establishment of public institutions of a commercial or financial nature, and of tribunals of commerce, the improvement of transport and communications, the application of laws of a local character, the sale price of prison-made goods and the tariff for prison labour, and local public works, and loans or taxation in connexion therewith. On the other hand, they are allowed to submit observations to the government, without being asked, on proposed changes in the commercial or economic legislation of the country; on customs tariffs and regulations; on railway, canal and river rates; and on transport regulations. As regards their administrative functions, they may be authorized to establish and administer such institutions as bonded warehouses, public sale-rooms, fire-arm testing establishments, conditioning rooms for wool, silk, textiles, paper, etc., commercial, professional, or technical schools and museums, etc. They may be granted concessions for public works, and may undertake the carrying out of public services, especially in regard to the ports, docks, canals and navigable rivers in their district, and be authorized to issue loans for the purpose.
French Chambers of '. Commerce Abroad.
Previous to 1898 it was illegal for chambers of commerce to hold joint meetings for the discussion of matters of public interest, and they were not even allowed to correspond or consult in any way, except through the medium of the minister of commerce. The new law relaxed to a certain extent this prohibition, by authorizing direct correspondence and permitting chambers in a district to meet for the joint consideration of questions affecting their district, but for no other purpose. Such a thing as an association of chambers of commerce is still illegal in France.
When, in 1873, British merchants in Paris started a British chamber of commerce in the French capital, the French government looked rather askance at the new venture, and M. on Say, when minister of commerce, even threatened with forcible dissolution unless the title " Chamber of Commerce " was dropped. This demand was not ultimately pressed, and the services rendered by the British chamber soon opened the eyes of the French government to the advantages which they might derive from the formation of similar institutions to represent French commercial interests abroad. In 1883 the minister of commerce started the organization of such chambers, which endeavoured to combine to a certain extent the French and the British systems.
Foreign commercial interests are represented in Paris by seven foreign chambers of commerce, of which the British Chamber is the oldest. The others are the American, Austro- . Hungarian, Belgian, Italian, Spanish and Russian / chambers. In 1896 these chambers formed them- in'paris^ ' se ' ves mto an Association of Foreign Chambers of Commerce, but the French government gave it to be understood that, as they did not allow associations of French chambers, they could not treat foreign bodies more favourably, and the association had to be dissolved.
b. Consultative Chambers of Arts and Manufactures. These institutions, organized somewhat after the model of chambers of commerce, represent manufacturing and industrial interests. They were established by Napoleon I. in 1803, and formed part of the complete system of commercial organizations which he intended to give France. They are now regulated by decrees of 1852 and 1863, and are composed of twelve members elected for six years by merchants and manufacturers inscribed upon an electoral list specially drawn up by the prefects. These chambers, of which there are some fifty in existence, are placed under the control of the minister of commerce, but instead of being kept out of the patentes, like chambers of commerce, they are supported by the municipality of the town where they are situated, which has also to provide them with offices rent free, and with clerical assistance. In addition to giving .. advice in connexion with manufacturing and industrial "**" matters, they have to look after and report upon improvements in manufactures and machinery, new industrial processes, etc. They are especially useful in the preparation of local and international exhibitions. They are also entrusted with the nomination of the Consultative Committee of Arts and Manufactures, a body whose functions are to advise the ministers of commerce and finance, as well as those of the interior and of public works, as regards the regulation of dangerous trades and industries, patents and trade marks legislation, and the interpretation of customs regulations.
c. Syndical Chambers^ of Trade and Industry. By the side of the official trade organizations other associations have grown up, which, although regulated by law, are in the nature of voluntary and self-supporting bodies, viz. the syndical chambers of trade and industry. The repeal in 1884 of the law of 1791, which prohibited the formation of trade or professional association, was the signal for the formation of those chambers, which soon acquired great influence. A few syndical chambers existed before that date, the oldest, the Chamber of Master Builders, dating back as far as 1809, but they were only tolerated, and their existence, being illegal, was most precarious.
The syndical chambers, which are divided into chambers of employers and chambers of employed, are the official organs and r tu representatives of the trade and professional syndicates authorized by the law of the list of March 1884, which was the work of M. Waldeck-Rousseau. Each syndicate has its separate chamber. They may be established without government authorization, but a copy of their rules and a list of their officials must be sent to the prefect. Membership is strictly limited to persons of French nationality. The only way in which the government can dissolve them is by application to the courts of justice for an order of dissolution on the ground of infringement of the provisions of the law. In Paris, most of the syndical chambers have formed an association . called the Union Nationale du Commerce et de 1'Industrie Alliance des Chambres Syndicales. Another association, intended to take up the defence of the interests and rights of syndical chambers, has been formed under the title of Syndicat du Commerce et de 1'Industrie Syndicat des Chambres Syndicales. The syndical chambers are kept up by the subscriptions of their members, and have the right to hold real property, as have also the associations of chambers, which are kept up by subscriptions from the constituent chambers.
According to the law which authorized their formation, the objects of the syndical chambers are exclusively " the study and defence of economic, industrial, commercial and _ .. agricultural interests," and for this purpose they have ^unctions. complete freedom of intercommunication and can hold congresses. They are authorized to establish for their members mutual benefit societies and pension and relief funds, to open employment agencies, to give legal advice to, and in certain cases to bring actions on behalf of their members, and to organize the settlement of disputes by arbitration. They take part in the election of judges of the tribunals of commerce and of the Conseils de Prud'hommes.
B. State Departmental Organization.
The state commercial departments and offices are chiefly centred round the ministry of commerce, to which is assigned the commercial part of the duties fulfilled in England by the board of trade. A ministry of commerce existed for short periods in 1811 and in 1828, but it was ultimately suppressed in 1829, and from that date until 1886, when the department received its present form and separate existence, commerce was only represented in the French government by a subsidiary bureau attached sometimes to one ministry, sometimes to another. The ministry is divided into three main bureaus the first entrusted with all matters connected with the home trade and industry, the second with foreign and colonial relations, and the third with the compilation of statistics.
Attached to the ministry of commerce is a body called the Conseil Superieur du Commerce et de 1'Industrie, which acts as an advisory council to the minister. Its origin goes back to the council of commerce established by Louis XIV., but it is now regulated by a decree of 1882.
The Office National du Commerce Exterieur was established by a law of the 4th of March 1898, and is carried on jointly by the ministry of commerce and the chamber of commerce of Paris, the latter having provided it with an in- ?/. " , stallation at a cost of over 1,200,000 francs. The * office, which has been founded for the promotion of Tr'd*" French trade with foreign countries and the dissemination of commercial intelligence, fulfils duties similar to those of the commercial intelligence branch of the board of trade. It also publishes the weekly Moniteur officiel du commerce.
The Office Colonial, whose duties are especially to furnish information concerning the French colonies, to promote emigration thither, and to foster a demand in France for the produce of her colonies, was established by a decree of the 14th of March 1899. It is entrusted, in addition, with a permanent exhibition of colonial produce and a museum of samples of goods supplied by or required in the colonies. The office is also in charge of a colonial garden at Vincennes, where experiments are made for the acclimatization of colonial plants and produce in France, and the cultivation of French produce in the colonies. The office publishes a monthly bulletin of miscellaneous colonial information, and issues yearly commercial and other reports dealing with the colonies. It is a dependency of the ministry of the colonies.
French consuls are instructed to transmit to their government all information which they may consider useful for the prosperity of French trade. It is also their duty to spread, in the country where they reside, a knowledge of such French commercial and financial matters as they may consider most useful in the interests of their own country. The close relations which they are recommended to cultivate with the French commercial community within their jurisdiction through the local French chamber of commerce and the councillors of foreign trade are intended to enable them to keep in better touch with commercial questions. They have had, however, to be frequently reminded of their commercial duties, and the French chambers of commerce have criticized them almost as much as the British chambers have British consuls. The most important instructions issued to consuls were contained in circulars from the minister for foreign affairs dated the 15th of March and the 24th of April 1883. French consuls have to make a return to their government every fortnight every month if the district is not of great commercial importance^showing, upon forms specially provided, the nature, quantity, origin or destination, prices wholesale and retail, and chief trade marks of the goods imported into and exported from the district, the results of public sales of produce, the conditions of transport, contemplated public works and tenders advertised, state of the labour market, artistic enterprises, commercial failures and rumours concerning important local firms, effect of foreign competition, imitation of French trade marks, etc. These returns are mostly of a confidential nature, and are not intended for publication, but whenever the minister considers it advisable he causes information to be conveyed through the chambers of commerce, or other channels, to the parties chiefly interested. The ordinary consular reports are published in weekly instalments in the Moniteur officiel du commerce.
nfflce IV. GERMANY A. Commercial Associations. German trade organizations are of three kinds, viz.:
a. Official organizations established by law, and called Handelskammern, or chamber of commerce; b. Semi-official associations; and c. Voluntary or " free " associations.
a. Chambers of Commerce. Contrary to the idea prevalent in England, official trade organizations in Germany are in a somewhat chaotic state. They have been established under more or less different conditions and systems in each state of the empire, and in certain districts still bear the imprint of foreign origin. They are under the control of the local state governments and lack the homogeneity and unity of direction of the French official system.
Before proceeding to a general examination of the German regime, special mention must be made of the chambers of comH tic merce f tne o'd Hanseatic Confederacy which stand o /,. apart, and whose duties, as well as constitution, differ t fo a ' from those of trade organizations in the rest of Germany. The chambers of commerce in Hamburg, Bremen and Liibeck are not only the successors of, but ( contrary to what happened in Germany as well as in other countries) have been evolved out of the old corporations which looked after the interests of the Hans traders in the olden days, and which, in the case of the Hamburg " Commerz-Deputation," tor instance, dated as far back as 1665.
The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, whose present constitution dates from 1860, is composed of twenty-four members elected for six years by the ancient " Versammlung eines ehrbaren Kaufmannes," that is to say, the merchants and commercial men whose names appear on the register of the " Honest Merchants " of the city. Its income is chiefly derived from special taxation, to which are added the proceeds of the sale of contract and transfer stamps, and also the amount paid every year for the re-registration of each " Honest Merchant." This latter source of income amounts to about 70,000 marks per annum. The chamber has to submit its accounts for approval to the Senate of the Republic.
In addition to the general duties of chambers of commerce in connexion with trade matters, the Hamburg chamber the same may also be said of the other Hanseatic chambers fulfils the combined functions of a chamber of shipping and of a port and docks board. It has the right of proposing judges and of nominating experts attached to the courts. The exchanges and public sale rooms of the city are under its control, and it publishes the official quotations, as well as a weekly price list of goods and produce at the port of Hamburg. It is entitled to elect members to the " Biirgerschaft " or lower house of representatives, who are especially competent to deal with trade and shipping questions, customs duties and emigration. The chamber must be consulted by the " Biirgerschaft " with reference to all proposals affecting trade and navigation.
In Bremen the chamber is composed of twenty-four members elected by the " Ausschuss des Kaufmanns-Konvents, "which comprises all the important commercial houses of the city. Two members go out every year, and no one can remain a member for more than eighteen years. The Bremen chamber is intimately connected with the Senate of the Republic, a standing committee of both being in existence to settle questions affecting trade and navigation.
The Liibeck chamber is composed of twenty members elected for six years by the associations representing the wholesale and retail trades. The president must be approved by the senate, and is sworn in as a state official. He holds office for two years, and is not paid for his services, but when he goes out of office is presented with a sum of money subscribed by the townspeople. The Liibeck chamber is probably the wealthiest organization of its kind in Germany, and is entrusted with the administration of the property of the old corporation of the " Vorstand der Kaufmannschaft, ' which is very important. The senate must consult it not only in trade and navigation matters, but also with reference to all contracts entered into on behalf of the state.
Chambers of commerce in other parts of the German Empire are not so important, nor are their duties so varied, as in the Hanseatic r/i.fc.n towns - The oldest ones were established by Napoleon C/7i)/nOtT.S O/ . . , *~tri)Ai ~ 11 Commerce. m l8 2 m Cologne, Crefeld, Aachen, btolberg and other towns which were then under the control of France, and they were submitted to the legislation which regulated the chambers organized in France at the same time. The model set up by the French was more or less closely followed in the subsequent establishment of institutions of this nature in other German states. The Berlin chamber was only constituted on the 1st of April 1902. A trade corporation called the " Aelteste der Kaufmannschaft " previously fulfilled, to a certain extent, the duties of a chamber of commerce. The new chamber rests on a broader basis than the old corporation, which, however, remains intact, though the Sphere of its action has been restricted.
Broadly speaking, the German chambers are elected by the registered tradespeople and the merchants. Throughout the whole of Germany chambers are under the strict supervision of the state minister of commerce, and cannot be established except with his permission. He fixes the number of members as well as the amount of the state allocation to the chamber. In Prussia and Bavaria the government is entitled to dissolve chambers whenever it considers it advisable to do so, and there is always a government commissioner in attendance at all meetings. In most cases the local government allows a fixed sum for the expenses of chambers of commerce, and if this amount is exceeded the electors who are on the commercial register have to make good the excess by the striking of a special rate. In some states, e.g. Brunswick, Wurttemberg and Baden, the electors cannot be called upon to pay for deficiencies more than an amount fixed by law. In Bavaria chambers^get a subvention from the district and central funds.
The duties and powers of the German chambers are practically the same as those of the French chambers.
The German government did not, like the French, interfere with the liberty of association of chambers of commerce, and as a result German chambers have united, together with other trade corporations, in an association called the " Deutsche Handelstag," founded in 1861, and carried on in its present form since 1886.
The German government is understood to be opposed to the formation of German chambers of commerce abroad, and as a German matter of fact there are no German chambers in Europe Chambers outside of Germany. A few have been established Abroad and in South America, but they are purely voluntary Foreign associations. No foreign chambers of commerce exist Chamberstn in Germany. Germany.
b. Semi-Official Corporations. Besides the chambers of commerce, there exist, chiefly in Prussia, various old-established and quasi-official corporations, whose views receive as careful consideration from the government as do those of chambers of commerce. The Berliner Aelteste der Kaufmannschaft is one of the most important of these corporations, but the Gewerbekammer of Memel, the Kaufmiinnische Verein of Breslau, the Vorsteher Amt der Kaufmannschaft of Koenigsberg also deserve mention. Others exist in Elbing, Stettin, Danzig, Tilsit and Magdeburg. They originated for the most part in ancient gilds or associations of commercial firms, and were organized in their present form between 1820 and 1825.
c. Voluntary Associations. Germany possesses also a large number of influential commercial associations of a voluntary character called the " Freie Vereine," which, especially in recent years, have greatly contributed to the commercial development of the empire.
B. State Departmental Organization.
The German Empire has no ministry of commerce. As in the United States, commercial matters form only a department of the ministry of state. Most of the states of the empire have, however, their own ministries of commerce, the oldest being the Prussian ministry of commerce and industry, which dates from 1848.
In Prussia, the minister of commerce is advised by the Volkswirthschaftsrath, or council of national economy, an official body constituted in 1880 by the Emperor William I. The functions of this council, which assembles periodically under the presidency of the minister of commerce, are also similar to those fulfilled in France by the C? Conseil SupeVieur du Commerce et de 1'Industrie.
The German government has taken steps to facilitate the dissemination of commercial intelligence by the establishment of commercial museums, which are variously called _ " Handelsmuseen, " " Ausfuhrmusterlager " or " Ex . c n "" e '*> portmusterlager. " The first of these, which are on the model of the Vienna Handelsmuseum, was opened in Berlin in 1883. Others followed in Munich, Karlsruhe, Frankfort, Cologne, Dresden, Leipzig, Weimar, etc. They perform, to a certain extent, much the same functions as those performed in England by the commercial intelligence branch of the board of trade.
A perusal of the instructions given to German consuls with regard to commercial matters shows that the German consular body is in this respect very much in the same position as the British consular body. If German consuls as a Consu/ar whole have been especially active and successful in promoting German commercial interests, it is not on account of the nature of the instructions received from their government, these instructions being to all intents and purposes similar to those issued to British consuls, but because particular care was taken to select consuls from a class of men imbued with the desire of increasing the greatness of their country by the promotion of German trade.
Of distinctly commercial attaches, like those of Great Britain and Russia, Germany has none; but in addition to the consular body she is represented in foreign countries by five attaches or experts, whose duties are to study the movements of agricultural produce, and interest themselves in agricultural matters generally. They cover Great Britain, France, Russia, the Danube district and the United States.
A. Commercial Associations.
The important place which Belgium has taken in international trade has directed much attention to her commercial organization, which comes nearer to the British model than that of any other European country. Belgian chambers of commerce were on the French system until 1875, when all official ties between them and the government were broken, and full liberty was given to commercial associations to establish and govern themselves in their own way. The Belgian chambers have now no administrative functions of any kind, but the Belgian government never fails to consult them in matters likely to interest the commercial community. The most important chambers are those of Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Liege, Charlcroi, Verviers and Namur. Mention should also be made of the federations of industrial and commercial associations at Antwerp and at Brussels, and of the syndical union of Brussels. In some places there are Liberal and Conservative chambers of commerce.
In addition to institutions representative of the general interests of commerce and industry, the principal trades have also in the larger cities separate associations or syndicates. There are a large number of associations for the promotion of colonial trade, which have grown up since the establishment of the Congo Free State. A number of Belgian chambers of commerce also exist abroad, the first of which was established in New York in 1867.
B. State Departmental Organization.
The Belgian ministry of commerce, under whose control commercial matters are placed, dates only from 1895, previous to which time the department of commerce at the ministry for foreign affairs fulfilled the same functions. The ministry has established in Brussels a Commercial Museum, similar to those of Germany and Austria, to centralize commercial intelligence and facilitate its dissemination.
VI. OTHER COUNTRIES Austria-Hungary. The control exercised by the government over commercial organizations in Austria and in Hungary is very close. The only institutions of this kind of any importance within the dual monarchy are the chambers of commerce. They are official bodies, regulated by the law of the agth of June 1868, which is, as regards the functions of chambers, almost similar to the French law. But the Austrian chambers, in certain cases, have the right to elect members of parliament, which right depends upon taxation. Within the -Trieste district one-third of the members of chambers of commerce may be foreigners.
Austria and Hungary have each a ministry of commerce, the former since 1853 a . n d tne latter since 1867, whose jurisdiction is strictly confined to internal trade matters in each country. Whenever important questions arise affecting common interests the Gemeinsame Zoll-Conferenz, or Common Customs Conference, is summoned. This conference is made up of representatives of the various ministries of both countries. Matters arising out of commercial relations with foreign countries are under the control of the commercial department of the imperial foreign office.
The Vienna commercial museum was the prototype of similar institutions. It was established in 1875, as a consequence of the Vienna International Exhibition of 1873, and was followed shortly afterwards by the establishment of a similar one in Budapest.
Italy. The chambers of commerce and arts, which are regulated by the law of 1862, are official bodies. They are instituted, and may be dissolved, by royal decree, and their functions are almost similar to those performed by the French chambers. They are, however, at liberty to unite for the consideration of commercial and industrial questions of common interest, and are entitled to own property and to levy taxes for their maintenance.
An advisory council is attached to the ministry of commerce, which dates from 1878. This council is called upon to give an opinion with reference to all matters connected with trade and industry. There are also two commercial museums, one in Rome and one in Milan.
Spain. Spanish chambers of commerce were organized by a royal decree of 1886, which places them under the control of the Ministro de Fomento. They are self-supporting bodies with unlimited membership, but have also an official standing. In order to belong to them one must be of Spanish nationality, be engaged in trade, have paid direct taxes to the state for at least five years for the business in connexion with which membership of the chamber is sought, and pay annualjy the amount of the subscription provided by the regulations. The government must consult chambers of commerce upon treaties of commerce and navigation, tariff changes, the creation of commercial exchanges and the organization of commercial education. Owing to the peculiarity of their constitution the Spanish chambers are much more representative of the feelings of the commercial community, and much less under the strict control of the government, than similar institutions in other continental countries. Spain has no ministry of commerce proper, the duties of this office being performed by the commercial sub-department of the Ministro de Fomento, which dates from 1847.
Portugal. In Portugal the organizations corresponding to chambers of commerce, which are called " commercial associations, " are voluntary associations kept up by the subscriptions of their members. The associations at Lisbon and Oporto are the only ones of importance.
Russia. Attached to the department of trade and manufactures of the ministry of Finance, which in Russia does duty for the ministry of commerce, there is an official council of trade and manufactures which sits in St Petersburg, and is presided over by a representative of the ministry. A similar council is also in existence at Moscow. In addition to these there are six local bodies, called the " local committees of trade and manufactures, " entrusted with the care of commercial interests in Archangel, Odessa, Rostov-on-the-Don, Tver, Tikhvin and Ivanovo-Voznesensk. At Warsaw there is a " committee of manufactures. " The committees are purely consultative bodies.
Closer to what we know as chambers of commerce are the institutions called " exchange committees. " They are voluntary associations, chosen by a council elected for the purpose by the commercial community; they generally consist of twelve members elected for five years, and the president is appointed by the minister of finance. Two important commercial societies, although unofficial, are recognized and frequently consulted by the government, viz. the Society for the Encouragement of Russian Trade and Industry, of St Petersburg, and the Society for the Encouragement of Navigation, of Moscow.
The Russian government is represented abroad by commercial attaches, who are known as " agents of the Russian ministry of finance. " The duties of these attaches are almost similar to those of the British commercial attaches, but they are entrusted with the promotion of Russian financial as well as commercial interests.
Japan. Commercial matters in Japan come within the cognizance of the minister of state for agriculture and commerce. The chief commercial associations are the chambers of commerce, which are under the direct control of the minister. They are official bodies, with a constitution somewhat resembling that of the French chambers. The members must be Japanese subjects.
AUTHORITIES. Correspondence respecting diplomatic and consular assistance to British trade abroad. Parliamentary Papers, No. 16, 1886, and No. 5, 1897; Report of the Departmental Committee on the Dissemination of Commercial Intelligence (2 vols., c. 8962, 8963, 1898); Reports on the constitution and functions of ministries of commerce and analogous branches of foreign administrations. Parliamentary Paper, No. 12 (1889). Reports, rules, by-laws and articles of association of the various chambers mentioned. W. H. Schoff , American Commercial Institutions (New York, 1900) ; Foreign Trade Policies; American Consular Report, No. 307 (Dec. 24, 1898). The Bureau of American Republics Annual Reports (Washington). The Chambers of Commerce Year Book (York, 1909).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)