Politics and finance in Italy
Tipologia : Paragrafi/Articoli
Data pubblicazione : 05/12/1914

Politics and finance in Italy

«The Economist», 5 dicembre 1914, pp. 990-991

 

 

 

There has been much talk in the last few days of a plan said to have been formed by M. Sonnino, the new Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, for a regrouping, with Italy, of the Balkan States, or those which are still neutral – Roumania, Bulgaria, and Greece. The scheme is reported to be regarded with favour by Russia, which would do its best to persuade Servia and Montenegro to join such a Balkan League. A Petrograd telegram states that Prince Troubetzkoi, the new Russian Minister in Servia, has gone thither, clothed with ample powers, to work for an understanding between Bulgaria and Servia. This suggests that there is some kind of formal understanding between the Italian and Russian Governments, and that the projected League may become a reality. The constitution of such a League, by eliminating the danger of a possible alliance between Bulgaria and Turkey, and settling the internal differences between the Balkan States, would, even if it involved the abandonment by Roumania, Bulgaria, and Greece, as well as by Italy, of their neutral attitude, constitute a great gain for the Allies. Italy, as the sponsor of the League, would have a very important rôle to fill. The League might be expected to exercise a most valuable influence in a future Peace Conference, which would be especially directed to secure the maintenance of the principle of nationality and respect for international law. It is, of course, not impossible that the League might at a given mo­ment, by armed intervention, afford the Allies such assistance as would ef­fectively hasten the termination of the war. The adhesion of Servia and Montenegro would give the League full justification for such intervention in order to compel Austria-Hungary to cease hostilities against these two members, leaving it to the future Peace Conference to decide the original question of theultimatum to Servia. In the same way Italy, having reached an agreement with the other States of the League on Adriatic questions, would leave to the Peace Congress the settlement of its nationalistic claims to the Trentino and Istria, subject to the principle that all such questionscan only be properly settled by the application to the populations con­cerned of a plebiscite under European guarantee.

 

 

On October 20th the wheat duty was reduced from 7f 50c to 3f per metric quintal (100 kilos). The monthly statistical bulletin of the Interna­tional Institute of Agriculture shows the steady rise of wheat prices at Genoa since war began. The figures are as under:

 

 

 

National Wheat.
Northern Italy (at departure).
Per Quintal

No. 2 Hard Winter

(on board, in bond).

Per Quintal

 

 

Francs

Francs

 

July 17, 1914

26.00

” 24, 1914

26.50

” 31,1914

26.75

August 7, 1914

30.50

”    14, 1914

29.75

”    21, 1914

29.00

21.00

”    28, 1914

September 4, 1914

28.25

20.12

“ 11, 1914

28.25

“ 18, 1914

29.50

“ 25, 1914

30.25

October 2, 1914

30.50

”   9, 1914

32.75

” 16, 1914

32.75

” 23, 1914

32.75

29.25

” 30, 1914

32.75

29.25

November 6, 1914

32.75

30.50

13, 1914

32.75

31.12

 

 

Statistics are now available of the import of wheat into Italy for internal consumption during the two first months of the war. They are as under:

 

 

 

1913

1914

Average 1908-13

 

Quintals

Quintals

Quintals

August

722,100

669,130

814,100

September

794,100

242,760

888,556

Total

1,516,200

911,890

1,702,656

 

 

As the last crop of wheat in Italy has been valued at 46,115,000 quintals against 58,352,000 in 1913, and 46,574,441 in the average from 1908-9 to 1912-13, the figures show a shortage which amply justifies the upward tendency of prices, which have continued to rise during the last weeks, although a Royal Decree of November 14th prohibited the re-export of cereals and of foodstuffs generally unless specifically addressed to a foreign consignee. The practical importance of this Decree is that, whilst Italy declines the responsibility of suppressing the transit trade with Germany and Austria-Hungary, she ensures her own supplies ofwheat and foodstuffs in general against the application of the British contraband rules, and in particular against seizure as conditional contraband on board a vessel bound for a neutral port, if the goods are consigned “to order”, or if the ship’s papers do not show who is the consignee of the goods, or if they show a consignee of the goods in territory belonging to or occupied by the enemy. The following figures clearly show the importance of the re-export of grain now prevented by the Italian Decree and the British contraband rules, as the only cereals on which it is possible to rely are those imported through the Straits of Gibraltar under the control of the British Naval authorities:

 

 

Wagons Loaded with Cereals from Genoa to

 

 

Switzerland

 

Italy

 

1913

1914

1913

1914

August

897

497

2,683

1,193

September

522

717

2,495

467

October

868

925

2,442

340

November (1-8)

99

759

570

107

Total number

2,386

2,895

8,190

2,107

 

 

No doubt, by the suppression of the transit through Italy and Switzerland, Germany and Austria will be hard hit in their food supplies. A question which, of course, Italy and Great Britain will have to resolve in quite friendly spirit is that of allowing neutral Switzerland to import freely all the cereals and other foodstuffs which she may require in order to supplement the normal deficiency of the home crops. Even at this late date the total suspension of the import duty on corn till the next crop would be a practical measure of encouragement to the supply of foreign wheat.

 

 

The “MovimentoCommerciale del Regnod’ltalianell’anno 1913”, now available, gives the following figures for the special trade between Italy and the United Kingdom during the last five years:

 

 

 

Imports into Italy

Exports to United Kingdom

(Exclusive of Precious Metals)

Million Lire

Million Lire

1909

490.64

167.93

1910

476.27

210.36

1911

509.83

222.80

1912

577.13

264.41

1913

591.78

260.50

 

 

 

Anglo-Italian trade for the year 1913 compares as follows with the other principal Italian imports and exports:

 

 

 

Imports into Italy

Exports from Italy

Million Lire

Million Lire

Germany

612.69

343.45

United Kingdom

591.78

260.50

United States

522.72

267.89

France

283.36

231.48

Austria-Hungary

264.66

221.15

Russia

237.37

60.93

Argentina

166.62

185.56

British India and Ceylon

146.04

49.46

Roumania

100.72

14.64

Switzerland

86.85

249.16

Belgium

77.05

57.79

Japan

60.78

4.60

China

56.05

5.92

Brazil

55.31

47.65

Total (with other countries)

3,645.64

2,511.64

 

 

Coal is far the most important import into Italy from the United Kingdom. The figures for the last five years are:

 

 

 

Million Lire

 

1909………………..

247.55

1910………………..

227.56

1911………………..

254.25

1912………………..

310.94

1913………………..

324.20

 

 

After coal, the more valuable imports from the United Kingdom into Italy were in 1913:

 

 

 

MillionLire

Machines and parts of machines

23.17

Wollen and worstedmanufactures

21.75

Sulphates

20.78

Ships

17.99

Cotton manufactures

12.65

Pig-iron

11.26

Fixedoils for industry

11.50

Wool, dyed, combed, &c

9.77

Wool, raw, washed, &c

9.55

 

 

The principal exports from Italy to the United Kingdom, according to the Italian statistics, were in 1913:

 

 

 

MillionLire

Silk goods and other silk manufactures

51.34

Eggs

15.34

Hides and skins

13.55

Fruits and vegetables, prepared

13.08

Cheese

11.00

Oranges and lemons

9.88

Hemp

9.80

Raw silk

9.15

Motor-cars

8.27

Rubber, wrought

6.24

Skin-gloves

5.46

Marble alabaster, wrought

5.19

 

 

The growing feeling of antipathy which now prevails in the Italian people against Germany and Austria-Hungary offers a rare opportunity to British exporters for developing their trade relations with the Italian market, in order to substitute British goods for many products which Italy largely imported from the Central Empires. The attention of British readers may be called particularly to the following items of German imports into

Italy in 1913:

 

 

 

MillionLire

Cotton goods and other cotton manufactures

23.76

Woollen and worsted manufactures

28.59

Works of iron and steel

31.20

Machines and parts of machines

64.85

Scientific and electrical instruments

46.26

Works and jewels of gold and silver

23.89

Works of rubber

16.62

Mercery, common and fine

20.19

Dyeing matters

17.86

Skins prepared

31.32

 

 

Of 264.66 million lire of merchandise imported in 1913 by Italy from Austro-Hungary, 101.08 million lire represented the value of one item, raw and sawn wood, for which a British colony, Canada, would not find it dif­ficult to enter into competition in the Italian market.

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