Export Prices (Classic Reprint)

Export Prices (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Export Prices

The President of the United States Steel Corporation testified before the Industrial Commission on May 11, 1901. He had grown up in steel mills and had always seen all kinds of steel goods sold at reduced prices for export. Apparently it had never occurred to him that this system was an abuse of protection, was against public policy and that everybody did not know of this usual and habitual difference between export and home prices. Hence he made some very frank admissions. Here are some extracts from his testimony:

"Q. Will you take up the question for a moment of the relation between export prices and the prices in this country? You have, perhaps, heard some of the discussion.

A. I heard some of the discussion of the gentleman who just preceded me. I do not quite agree with him, of course. It is quite true, as he says, that export prices are made at a very much lower rate than those here; but there is no one who has been a manufacturer for any length of time who will not tell you that the reason he sold, even at a loss, was to run his works full and steady. That has been the chief thing regarding all these companies in their export business. I think you may safely say this, that where large export business is done, for example in the line of iron and steel, nearly all the people from whom supplies are bought for that purpose give you a good price for the materials that go into export. Railroads will in most instance carry them a little cheaper for you, and so on all down the line. But labor, within my knowledge at least, has never been asked to work for a lower price for export material, so that labor benefits more by it than almost any other interest.

Q. Is it a fact generally true of all exporters in this country that they do sell at lower prices in foreign markets than they do in the home market?

A. That is true, perfectly true. I just want to interrupt you and say. that American steel has been sold in the American market at as low prices in times of extreme depression as it has been in foreign markets, but it has been sold without profit. You know we do run for a space of time at a loss.

Q. Would you say that when business is in a normal condition the export prices are regularly somewhat lower than home prices?

A. Oh, yes; always.

Q. (By Mr. Jenks) I should like to go back a moment to the question of export prices. You said that during last year the export price was considerably lower than the price in the United States. Would you mind giving us definite figures?

A. I have not them at hand, but it would vary with each article.

Q. Suppose you take the case of steel rails. Could you give us about the difference between the export and domestic price?

A. I would have to make a guess; I do not know definitely. The export price was about $23 a ton.

Q. And the price here?

A. Was $20 and $28.

Q. At the same time?

A. At the same time.

Q. In making these export prices, are the export prices at all uniform or do they vary?

A. They vary with the competition we may have."

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