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The Economist

Congestion at Genoa

«The Economist», 3 aprile 1915, p. 669

 

 

 

Now that the great ports of Hamburg, Bremen, Antwerp, Trieste, and Fiume are practically closed to traffic, the Italian port of Genoa has gained a position of unprecedented importance as an entrepôt. Before the war Genoa was the principal port for the North of Italy, but its imports for other countries were comparatively small. Just enough cotton was imported for the Italian mills, but practically none for the mills of other countries. According to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, however, this trade has now swelled enormously, so that out of 483,100 bales of cotton lying at the port on March 5th well over two-thirds was destined for foreign consumption – that is to say, mainly for Austria and Germany. The cotton imports of Genoa have increased as indicated below over the level of a year ago:

 

 

1913-14     1914-15

Bales        Bales

December…………………….. 94,730      196,348

January………………………… 87,712      248,518

February……………………….. 63,498      228,232

Total…………………………. 245,940     673,098

 

 

Speculation is said to be very active, and cotton is sold at very high prices. Trade, however, is greatly handicapped by inadequate railway and harbour facilities. Goods wagons are being kept back in Austria and Germany, while there is a great scarcity of tarpaulin covers, some 6,000 of which had to be withdrawn from the railways after the recent earthquake to provide shelter for the inhabitants of Avezzano and district. The absence of tarpaulins has been the more severely felt owing to abnormal rainfall. There is also a serious congestion of traffic in the sidings at the port, and at the frontier stations of Chiasso, Luino, and Ala, leading to the Gotthard, Simplon, and Brenner lines through Switzerland and Austria. The Customs officials cannot cope with the work thrust upon them by numerous Ministerial orders, embargoes, and regulations against the export of contraband. There has been a breakdown of the electric power in the Givio tunnel. At Genoa itself there is a lack of electric cranes, of mechanical contrivances for loading, and automatic weighing machines, while the organisation of labour is stated to be very defective. It appears that recently 5,000 bales of cotton, worth £ 40,000, were destroyed by incendiaries.

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