Mercantilist Economic Theory And Policy, Interconnected With Wider Political Issues

1016 words - 5 pages

The rise of the modern nation-state, with bullion hungry treasuries would nolonger be able to rely on a medieval style feudal economy to ensure its existence. Thenew form of centralized government would come to recognize the growing strength ofmerchant capital, and a commercial revolution of sorts would be born.No longer would Aristotle's ethical philosophies of 'natural exchange' and 'justprice' be the dominate attitudes toward the economy. This new form of economicthought (Mercantilism) would focus on economics as statecraft and the promotion ofnational wealth and power.This new economic theory required the nation to accept that the economy wouldnow, out of necessity be 'disembedded' f ...view middle of the document...

This would require government to play a major role in encouraging domestic manufacturing and export while minimizing imports. To accomplish this, a 'protectionist' policy was undertaken. This policy saw the institution of high tariffs, restrictions on the export of raw materials and import prohibitions to protect domestic interest against stern foreign competition. Some governments would go as far as to prohibit the emigration of skilled labour, along with the export of tools and capital equipment. The creation of trade monopolies would be another example of the underlying protectionist policy. Domestic trade monopolies would permit only a single merchant the rights to tender on foreign commodities, in order to obtain a favourable price, unaffected by competition. Other monopolies in the form of franchises were formed and granted exclusive rights for foreign trading, again to enact favourable price control and to gain a hold on foreign markets. The best example of a monopolistic foreign trade franchise would be the British East India Company. First arriving in India by 1608, they gained for their empire the right to form a single factory located at Sura, the company would quickly take part in a vast expansion in Indian trading operations. This expansion would see the establishment of numerous trading posts as well as the development of British communities. Eventually the company would transform from trading company to ruling enterprise in an India under British rule.Mercantilist trade policy may best be described as being personified by the Navigation Acts . In Britain, it was the Navigation laws of 1650 and 1651 that prohibited foreign ships from partaking in England's coastal trade. Furthermore, these acts required that any goods imported from Europe were to be carried solely by English transports, or by transports registered at the good's country of origin. Trade between England and its colonies was only to be carried out thro...


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