PRIVATE TRADE PROMOTION 1. American and English chambers of commerce. —The promotion of foreign commerce has received the attention of many American chambers of com merce and commercial bodies. The Chicago Associa tion of Commerce, for example, aids its members by establishing agencies abroad, and also by bringing them in touch locally with visiting foreign buyers. Bulletins and circular letters are issued at frequent intervals containing valuable information in regard to general market conditions, tariff changes and other relevant matters. The association maintained for five years a branch office in Buenos Aires in charge of an experienced representative who submitted reports on business conditions, and spent more than one-half of his time in travel, advertising the products of the members. Later the work was turned over to the American commercial attache. The association still answers questions of members concerning ocean freight rates, sailing dates, methods of packing and similar subjects.
The foreign track department of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has a library on trade sub jects and is equipped to answer questions relating to the harbor problems of the world, the cost of entering and clearing, loading and discharging of vessels, the kind of loading facilities available in each harbor and the best way of routing a shipment.
The Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, like many other chambers, a cooperative branch office of the United States Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Com merce, has a classified record of manufacturers in Cleveland and vicinity interested in foreign trade, and how their export business is handled; a library of maps, trade journals, government publications, cable codes, and commercial directories, a permanent ex hibit of documents used in shipping and financing an export order and a compilation of data respecting goods produced in or near Cleveland.
The same foreign trade department has made in vestigations regarding the market conditions in va rious parts of the world in specific lines, such as cut ting tools, paper and paper goods and aluminum cooking utensils. Arrangements have been made with trade-mark attorneys in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Cuba., to register Cleveland-owned trade-marks
at a special rate. Assistance is given in the collecting of accounts in foreign countries. A translation serv ice is at the disposal of members who do not have the command of the language of their foreign customers. A large number of pamphlets have been published dealing with topics such as "Your Trade-mark in Cuba" and "Foreign Trade Reports." These few examples by no means exhaust the list of American chambers of commerce which are active in the promotion of foreign trade. Those of New York, Boston, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Detroit, Seattle, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and many other large cities might have been similarly described.
2. Tendency towards centralization.—The Amer ican chamber of commerce is a purely private under taking. It is often only one,and not always the most important, of several commercial associations. In some cities the Young Men's Business League is gradually absorbing the functions of too-conservative chambers of commerce. This type of organization is called the English type of chamber of commerce. It is found also in Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, and in most countries outside of Europe.
The establishing of branch offices of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce in chambers of com merce in the United States is a step in the direction of bringing about a closer relation between the busi ness world and government trade assistance.
In the United Kingdom, which boasts 125 chambers of commerce, the tendency has been towards greater official recognition of these organizations. A large degree of centralization is also secured thru the work of the Association of Chambers of Commerce in the United Kingdom, which discusses questions of trade, collects and disseminates information, petitions Par liament in questions of trade, manufacturing and shipping, prepares bills dealing with these subjects and protests against measures injurious to trade. It appears, however, that the government is still more or less indifferent to the practical business man's advice.