9. COTTON INDUSTRY IN LATIN AMERICA. Cotton production in the Latin American republics has reached important pro portions, the average crop now being 385,000, 000 pounds in those countries. Brazil leads with an annual crop of 207,000,000 pounds. The Mexican crop averages 100,000,000 pounds, the Peruvian 62,000,000 pounds, and that of the West Indies 6,500,000 pounds. Venezuela, Haiti and Argentina produce 3,522,000, 3,122,000 and 1,230,000 pounds, respectively. Among the smaller producers are Colombia with 790,000 pounds, the Dominican Republic with 368,000 pounds, Nicaragua 257,000 pounds, Ecuador 250,000 pounds and Paraguay 51,000 pounds.
Reliable information concerning the cotton industry in the southern countries is as fol lows: Mestico.—Among the countries of Central and South America Mexico ranks second in the production of cotton. The staple is cultivated on a small scale in many sections of the repub lic, but the principal cotton lands are found in the states of Tamaulipas and Vera Cruz on the Gulf Coast; Oaxaca, Guerrero, Sinaloa, Sonora and Lower California on the Pacific Coast; and Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua in the north central seotion. But at least 80 or 90 per cent of the crop is grown in the central states of Durango and Coahuila, in what is known as the Laguna section. The Laguna lands are said to be of even greater fertility than those of the famous Nile Valley. No fertilizers are needed as there is plenty of nitrogen in the soil, and the Nazas River which irrigates the lands brings down the required phosphates and pot ash. The fertility of the soil is so great that one irrigation in August or September assures a large crop the next year.
There are no reliable statistics relating to cotton production in Mexico, but the normal crop is estimated at about 200,000 bales of 500 pounds. The unsettled condition of the coun try, however, has so greatly interfered with cotton cultivation that in 1914-15 the output was only about 145,000 bales. Mexico exports very little raw cotton in ordinary times, but the of the mills in Torreon, Durango and other interior towns has forced the cotton planters in the past few years to send a con siderable amount of their staple to the United States. Besides these exports from 20000 to
25,000 bales raised in the Imperial Valley are ginned in the United States from the seed cotton sent across the border.
According to late official figures there are in Mexico 139 cotton mills, containing 762,149 spindles and 27,019 looms. These mills in nor mal times consume about 162,000 bales of cot ton, and employ 34,500 operatives, and the out put was approximately 17,605,000 pieces of cloth and 5,002,000 pounds of yarn, valued at $26,548,000 (gold). Most of the mills are fitted for only the coarser grades of goods which find their best customer in the peon. The govern ment levies a direct tax of 5 per cent on all mill sales. Most of the mills are small, the average containing 5,225 spindles and 182 looms. There are only 13 mills with over 10,000 spin dles, the largest single milt containing 44,184 spindles and 1,675 looms. The largest group of mills are located in the states of Puebla and Vera Cruz, and in the Federal District. The most important of the mill towns are Puebla, Atlizco, Orizaba and Mexico City.
Before the condition of the country became so unsettled the imports of cotton goods into Mexico showed a steady increase, the require ments of the people growing proportionately faster than the capacity of the local mills for supplying them. In 1908 the total output of the mills was valued at $27,357,000, while the imports were valued at $8,846,000, so that Mex ico imported nearly one-fourth of its require ments of cotton goods. The Mexican tariff on cotton goods is among the highest in the world, being exceeded by those of Peru, Russia and Brazil. On some classes of cloth the duty amounts to three times its value abroad, espe cially on the coarser grades; the imports are, therefore, mostly of the finer grades of cloth, and such specialties as are not made in Mexico. In 1913 the imports of cotton goods from the United States increased to the value of$1,065, 000; in 1914, to $1,201,000; in 1915, to $2,261, 000; and in 1916, to $4,892,000, and in the eight years from 1908 to 1916, $4,072,000 or 36854 per cent.