Chapter IV : Economic Geography
Part 4 : Trade


from : J. Roland and E. Duchesne, Cours Complet de Geographie : Le Congo Belge, Namur 1914, pp.47-48



Trade.

The general commerce of the Belgian Congo rose, in 1911, to 154 million Francs, of which 58 million 400 thousand Fr. were imports, and 95 million 600 thousand Fr. exports.
The special commerce exceeded 102 million Fr., of which 48 million 700 thousand were imports, 54 million were exports. The export figures indicate a decline in value over the previous years; this decline is mainly due to the low world market price paid for rubber.
Belgium's share among the 48 million 700 thousand Francs of import and 54 million Francs of exports is 31 million 400 thousand and 47 million 600 thousand, or 64.6 % and 88 %.


Exports.

The export (special commerce), which has reached a volume of 54 million Francs, is composed as follows :

Products Exported

Liana Rubber
Weed Rubber
Ivory
Copal
crude gold
palm nuts
crude copper
palm oil
cocoa
copper ore
unworked skins
timber
rice
coffee
chikwangues
pinapple extracts
mabula panza
Quantity
in 1000s of kg
2.513
889
226
2.139
0.9
6.764
1.015
2.273
681
115
15
108 m3
56
2.6
16
1
14
Value
in 1000s Fr.
27,617
6,810
5,683
3,348
3,119
2,879
1,834
1,732
895
69
18
16
14
3
3
3
2


As one sees in the table, the two principal export products are rubber and ivory. Because of this the Belgian Congo is called "a rubber mine and a cemetery of ivory". It is, in effect, the prime African rubber producing country and the second in the world, after Brazil. It is first in the world in the production of ivory. After rubber and ivory, the palm tree products form the third valued export item : palm nuts and palm oil. They are followed by copal, crude gold, crude copper and cocoa.
Of the exported products, the largest part is exported to Belgium; the latter receives 47 million 600 thousand Francs of the 54 million, or 88 %. Angola comes second, with 3 million 400 thousand Fr., then the Netherlands with 700 thousand Fr., England with 470 thousand Fr.


Imports.

The imports (special commerce) have reaches 48 million 700 thousand Francs and are composed as follows :

Products Imported

cotton cloth
machines, utensils, metalware
conserves
clothing
steel
ironware
boats and accessories
locomotives and wagons
wines
fish
timber and timber products
beers
butter
licquors
rice
paper, stationery
coal
chemical, pharmaceutical products
tobacco, cigars
scientific instruments
cartridges
camping equipment
Value
in 1000s Fr.
8,050
5,360
3,447
3,117
2,772
1,971
1,920
1,671
1,667
1,030
995
898
823
813
780
758
744
678
541
478
476
453
Products Imported

perfumes, haberdashery
glass, glassware
heads of cattle
paint
drugs
guns
cement
grain
salt
hemp and jute tissues
soap
sugar
potatoes
powder and explosives
buckets, waxed or tarred cloths
musical instruments
porcelain, pottery
linen cloth
petrol
candles
donkeys and mules
coffee
copper or brass wire
pistols, revolvers
matches
Value
in 1000s Fr.
365
351
330
322
319
298
294
273
270
221
207
175
153
140
128
125
120
118
114
98
86
80
79
51
50


As one sees in the table, the principal import products of the Belgian Congo are cotton cloth, foodstuff, railway and navigation supplies, construction material, clothing and haberdashery.
Among the imports of the Belgian Congo, the Belgian share accounts for 31 million 400 thousand Fr. or 64.6 %. Following are : England, 6 million; Germany, 2 1/2 million, France, 2 million, the United States, Rhodesia, the Netherlands, 1 million each.

From the table of exchange with various countries, it is seen that only the colonial powers participate in this exchange, and once again the trade follows the flag. Belgium, which overcame all the obstacles in the early period of the colonisation, today occupies the first rank, and its domination can not but increase in the future.







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Last revised on October 8th 2001

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