THE spectacular expansion of German trade in Latin America and southeastern Europe since 1933 has caused a rather general reëxamination of our own trade policy. What does the German "threat" mean to the export and import trade of the United States? What action, if any, should we take?
In the trade of southeastern Europe the United States is not greatly concerned. Our imports from Hungary, Rumania, Jugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece and Turkey include no items of critical importance; taken together they make up less than two percent of our total import trade. It may be that our active and increasing trade with what was Austria and with Czechoslovakia will shrink as a result of German annexations. But that milk is spilled, unless perchance we succeed in establishing better trade relations with Greater Germany. This possibility is discussed later. But when Germany with her new barter deals and compensation agreements makes sudden inroads into the Latin American market, that is a horse of another color. Our trade interests are much larger in that area. Besides, the traditional interpretation given to the Monroe Doctrine makes it difficult to divorce economic from political considerations.
In considering Latin American trade, we must be on our guard against what Röpke has called "geographical romanticism." We must not confuse square miles with purchasing power. The area occupied by the twenty republics is indeed enormous; Brazil alone is ten percent larger than the continental United States. But the populations of our neighbors to the south are small, they are dispersed and, in the mass, they are poor. The entire import trade of Latin America in 1936 had a value less than that of France, while Latin American exports were only slightly larger than the exports from the Greater Reich. Nevertheless, it should be recognized that Latin America ranks far ahead of southeastern Europe, both as a market for finished products and as a source of foodstuffs and raw materials. The imports of Argentina alone in 1936 were valued at
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