British manufacturers are indebted to The London Times for a remarkable series of letters on the subject of American engineering competition, which have lately been communicated to that journal. Previously to writing these articles, the author made a tour through the chief manufacturing States of the Union, for the purpose of personally examining the plant, management, local conditions and transportation facilities, of the leading industries and gather all other information necessary for a comprehensive and intelligent discussion of the subject. It is evident that he is technically qualified for the task, and the series forms such a valuable compendium on the subject that we have concluded to publish it in consecutive issues of the Scientific American Supplement. The introductory letter. which wiil be found in the current issue of the Supplement, naturally opens wich a reference to the statistics of imports and exports of Great Britain and the United States, the figures being taken respectively from the British Board of Trade and from the United States Bureau of Statistics. Statements of imports and exports afford the most reliable evidence of the strength of American competition and of the relative progress of the two countries in the world's trade ; although, as the writer reminds his readers, Sir Robert Giffen, in a recent lecture before the Royal Statistical Society, has warned the British public against being too easily alarmed by an excess of imports over exports, pointing out that Great Britain has a fruitful source of income in the return upon the enormous British capital invested in railways, public works, etc., in different foreign countries. While the force of this suggestion is not disputed, it is pointed out by the correspondent to The Times that for a country to carry on an export trade is an indication that it can meet and beat other nations in competition, while the falling off in American imports, though it may be caused by a protective tariff, is an evidence of the nation's greater ability to manufacture for its own needs, and for the consumer to pay the price demanded by the producer. The introductory statistical comparison is based upon the changes which have taken place in the two countries during the decade. from 1888 to 1898. The total exports of the United States were, in 1888, 695,954,507, while the imports were 723,957,114, which gives an excess of over 28,000,000 of imports over exports. In 1898 American exports had risen to 1,231,482.330, while the imports had fallen to 616,049,654, which shows that instead of buying more than we were selling, as at the beginning of the decade, we were selling more than we were buying by an enormous margin. The statistics of English trade show that in 1888 the total exports were 1,492,887,705, or over double those of the United States in that year. The imports were 1,938,178,715, the excess of imports over exports, therefore, being about 445,000,000. Eleven years ago Great Britain and the United States imported more than they exported ; by 1898 British exports had fallen to 1,470.069,940, while the imports had risen to 2.351,892.914, showing that the excess of imports over exports had risen to over 881,000,000, the excess being about double what it was at the beginning of the decade. Comparing these results we find that, whereas in 1898 Great Britain bought about 881,000,000 worth more than she sold, the United States sold about 640,000,000 worth more than they bought. Speaking of the natural advantages enjoyed by the engineering trade in the United States due to the vast extent, richness and accessibility of the ore, and the fortunate geographical distribution of the raw material for the steel industries, The Times correspondent shows that whereas the Lake Superior ores contain from 59 per cent. to 65 per cent. of iron, as against 57 6 percent. of iron in the so-called rich Cumberland and Lancashire ores, in the Cleveland ironstone the percentage is very much less. A further natural advantage is due to the fact that coal is being worked very much nearer the surface in the United States than in England, and tbat in cases where long distances have to be covered, to gather the raw materials at the blast furnace, the improved methods of transportation peculiarly characteristic of the United States have gone far to neutralize the disadvantage. Moreover, it seems that so far from the coal, ironstone and flux lying geographically close together in Great Britain, the ore used in the manufacture of Bessemer steel has to be brought a thousand of miles by sea from the Spanish mines. Thus, in 1898, when Great Britain produced 8,631,151 tons of pig iron, she imported nearly five and a half million tons of ore, chiefly from Spain. Among all the statistics bearing upon the engineering trade of the two countries, none are more significant than those, of the production of pig iron, for, whereas in .1884 7,811,727 tons of pig iron were produced in Great Britain as against 4,097,869 tons in the United States, in 1890, when the total production for Great Britain was about the same, that of the United States had more than doubled, having risen to 9,202,703 tons and thereby giving to this country, for the first time, the foremost position among the iron-producing countries of the world. The estimated production for 1899 is for Great Britain 9,500,000 tons and for the United States 14,000,000 tons, an excess over Great Britain of 4,500,000 tons. The letter concludes with the statement that during the tour through the United States, made in the interest of the series of articles referred to, the writer found everywhere the same state of booming prosperity ; works of all kinds full of orders for a year and more ahead, old works being enlarged and new works started.