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Timeline of international trade

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Title: Timeline of international trade  
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Subject: International trade, History of international trade, Embargo, Export, Export subsidy
Collection: History of International Trade, International Economics
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Timeline of international trade

The history of international trade chronicles notable events that have affected the trade between various countries.

In the era before the rise of the nation state, the term 'international' trade cannot be literally applied, but simply means trade over long distances; the sort of movement in goods which would represent international trade in the modern world.


  • Chronology of events 1
    • Ancient 1.1
    • Middle Ages 1.2
    • Modern 1.3
      • Early modern 1.3.1
    • Later modern 1.4
    • Post war 1.5
  • See also 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Chronology of events

The desert Cities in the Negev were linked to the Mediterranean end of the ancient Incense Route.


  • The domestication of camel allows Arabian nomads to control long distance trade in spices and silk from the Far East.[2]
  • Indian goods are brought in Arabian vessels to Aden.[3]
  • The "ships of Tarshish", a Tyrian fleet equipped at Ezion Geber, make several trading voyages to the East bringing back gold, silver, ivory and precious stones.[3]
  • The Greek Ptolemaic dynasty exploits trading opportunities with India prior to the Roman involvement.[5]
  • The cargo from the India and Egypt trade is shipped to Aden.[5]
Roman trade with India according to the Periplus Maris Erythraei, 1st century CE.
  • The goods from the East African trade are landed at one of the three main Roman ports, Arsinoe, Berenice or Myos Hormos.[7]
  • Myos Hormos and Berencie (rose to prominence during the 1st century BCE) appear to have been important ancient trading ports.[6]
  • Gerrha controls the Incense trade routes across Arabia to the Mediterranean and exercises control over the trading of aromatics to Babylon in the 1st century BC.[8] Additionally, it served as a port of entry for goods shipped from India to the East.[8]
  • Due to its prominent position in the incense trade, Yemen attracts settlers from the fertile crescent.[9]
The economy of the Kingdom of Qataban (light blue) was based on the cultivation and trade of spices and aromatics including frankincense and myrrh. These were exported to the Mediterranean, India and Abyssinia where they were greatly prized by many cultures, using camels on routes through Arabia, and to India by sea.
  • Pre-Islamic Meccans use the old Incense Route to benefit from the heavy Roman demand for luxury goods.[10]
  • In Java and Borneo, the introduction of Indian culture creates a demand for aromatics. These trading outposts later serve the Chinese and Arab markets.[11]
  • Following the demise of the incense trade Yemen takes to the export of coffee via the Red Sea port of al-Mocha.[12]

Middle Ages

  • Indian exports of spices find mention in the works of Ibn Khurdadhbeh (850), al-Ghafiqi (1150), Ishak bin Imaran (907) and Al Kalkashandi (14th century).[14]
  • The Hanseatic League secures trading privileges and market rights in England for goods from the League's trading cities in 1157.


Early modern

This figure illustrates the path of Vasco da Gama heading for the first time to India (black) as well as the trips of Pêro da Covilhã (orange) and Afonso de Paiva (blue). The path common to both is the green line.
  • Spanish expedition commanded by Christopher Columbus discover America in 1492.
  • Portuguese diplomat Pero da Covilha (1460 – after 1526) undertakes a mission to explore the trade routes of the Near East and the adjoining regions of Asia and Africa. The exploration commenced from Santarém (1487) to Barcelona, Naples, Alexandria, Cairo and ultimately to India.
  • Portuguese explorer and adventurer Vasco da Gama is credited with establishing another sea route from Europe to India.
  • In the 1530s, the Portuguese ship spices to Hormuz.[16]
  • Japan introduced a system of foreign trade licenses to prevent smuggling and piracy in 1592.
  • A Dutch convoy sailed in 1598 and returned one year later with 600,000 pounds of spices and other East Indian products.[17]
  • The first English outpost in the East Indies is established in Sumatra in 1685.
  • Japan introduces the closed door policy regarding trade(Japan was sealed off to foreigners and only very selective trading to the Dutch and Chinese was allowed) 1639.
  • The 17th century saw military disturbances around the Ottawa river trade route.[18] During the late 18th century, the French built military forts at strategic locations along the main trade routes of Canada.[19] These forts checked the British advances, served as trading posts which included the Native Americans in fur trade and acted as communications posts.[19]
  • In 1799, The Dutch East India company, formerly the world's largest company goes bankrupt, partly due to the rise of competitive free trade.

Later modern

Monopolistic activity by the company triggered the Boston Tea Party.
  • Japan is served by the Portuguese from Macao and later by the Dutch.[16]
  • By 1815, the fifth shipment of nutmegs from Sumatra had arrived in Europe.[20]
  • Grenada becomes involved in Spice Trade.[20]
  • Opium War (1840) - Britain invades China to overturn the Chinese ban on opium imports.
  • The Japanese Meiji Restoration (1868) leads the way to Japan opening its borders and quickly industrialising through free trade. Under bilateral treaties restraint of trade imports to Japan were forbidden.
  • In 1873, the Wiener Börse slump signals the start of the continental Long Depression, during which support for protectionism grows.

Post war

  • In 1946. the Bretton Woods system goes into effect; it had been planned since 1944 as an international economic structure to prevent further depressions and wars. It included institutions and rules intended to prevent national trade barriers being erected, as the lack of free trade was considered by many to have been a principal cause of war.
A world map of WTO participation:
  Members, dually represented with the European Union
  Observer, ongoing accession
  Non-member, negotiations pending
  • Four important ISO ( [22]
    • January 1968: R-668 defined the terminology, dimensions and ratings
    • July 1968: R-790 defined the identification markings
    • January 1970: R-1161 made recommendations about corner fittings
    • October 1970: R-1897 set out the minimum internal dimensions of general purpose freight containers
  • The Zangger Committee is formed in 1971 to advise on the interpretation of nuclear goods in relation to international trade and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was created in 1974 to moderate international trade in nuclear related goods, after the explosion of a nuclear device by a non-nuclear weapon State.
  • The breakdown of the Soviet Union leads to a reclassification of within-country trade to international trade, which has a small effect on the rise of international trade.[23]
  • 1 January 1995: free trade, by mandating mutual most favored nation trading status between all signatories.
  • 1 January 2002: Twelve countries of the European Union launch the Euro zone (euro in cash), which instantly becomes the second most used currency in the world.

See also


  1. ^ Stearns 2001: 37
  2. ^ Stearns 2001: 41
  3. ^ a b c Rawlinson 2001: 11–12
  4. ^ Edwards 1969: 330
  5. ^ a b Young 2001: 19
  6. ^ a b Shaw 2003: 426
  7. ^ O'Leary 2001: 72
  8. ^ a b Larsen 1983: 56
  9. ^ Glasse 2001: 59
  10. ^ Crone 2004: 10
  11. ^ Donkin 2003: 59
  12. ^ Colburn 2002: 14
  13. ^ a b Donkin 2003: 91–92
  14. ^ Donkin 2003: 92
  15. ^ Tarling 1999: 10
  16. ^ a b Donkin 2003: 170
  17. ^ a b Donkin 2003: 169
  18. ^ Easterbrook 1988: 75
  19. ^ a b Easterbrook 1988: 127
  20. ^ a b Corn 1999: 217
  21. ^ Corn 1999: 265
  22. ^ Rushton, A., Oxley, J., Croucher, P. (2004). The Handbook of Logistics and Distribution Management. Kogan Page: London.
  23. ^  


  • Rawlinson, Hugh George (2001). Intercourse Between India and the Western World: From the Earliest Times to the Fall of Rome. Asian Educational Services.  
  • Donkin, Robin A. (2003). Between East and West: The Moluccas and the Traffic in Spices Up to the Arrival of Europeans. Diane Publishing Company.  
  • Easterbrook, William Thomas (1988). Canadian Economic History. University of Toronto Press.  
  • Young, Gary Keith (2001). Rome's Eastern Trade: International Commerce and Imperial Policy, 31 BC-AD 305. Routledge.  
  • Corn, Charles (1999). The Scents of Eden: A History of the Spice Trade. Kodansha America.  
  • Larsen, Curtis (1983). Life and Land Use on the Bahrain Islands: The Geoarcheology of an Ancient Society. University of Chicago Press.  
  • Colburn, Marta (2002). The Republic Of Yemen: Development Challenges in the 21st Century. Progressio.  
  • Glasse, Cyril (2001). The New Encyclopedia of Islam. Rowman Altamira.  
  • Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Physics and Physical Technology, Part 2, Mechanical Engineering. Taipei: Caves Books Ltd.
  • Ebrey, Walthall, Palais, (2006). East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Morton, Scott and Charlton Lewis (2005). China: Its History and Culture: Fourth Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
  • Krugman, Paul., 1996 Pop Internationalism. Cambridge: MIT Press,
  • Mill, John Stuart., 1844 Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy
  • Mill, John Stuart., 1848 Principles of Political Economy with some of their Applications to Social Philosophy (Full text)
  • Smith, A. 1776, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

External links

  • The BBC's illustrated history of free trade
  • The Cato institute says free trade has brought wealth to countries engaging in it for 500 years.
  • A chronology of maritime Asian trade from 425 BC (Chinese silk trade with Greece by sea.) to 1700
  • Tariffs and Subsidies – The Literal Cost of High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities: a dictionary of trade in Britain, 1550–1820. Part of British History Online, by permission of the University of Wolverhampton.
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