Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


TRADE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 249362
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: United Kingdom

Asian trade and European industry

An EU team examined historical trade between Asia and Europe and the consequences for both regions. The study revealed interconnections between companies and the role of Scandinavian firms in re-exporting Asian goods within Europe.
Asian trade and European industry
Throughout the 17th to 19th centuries, several European countries operated trading companies based in Asia, and specifically India. The resulting trade in goods and culture helped Europe emerge as a manufacturing centre, and oriented Asia to European priorities.

The EU-funded TRADE (Europe's Asian centuries: Trading Eurasia 1600-1830) project helped quantify changes resulting from such trade. The study examined how Asian goods were produced, adapted to European tastes and distributed to Europe. Investigations also detailed European social and manufacturing responses.

First, the project recruited, assembled and then trained a specialist team. Members made strong connections with other researchers via a seminar series, conferences and a network of museum curators.

Researchers drew upon European national archives with new questions. Results highlighted the role of private and privileged trade by East India Companies. Work also demonstrated the range of goods imported to Europe and their spread throughout the continent.

Findings reveal important connections among East India Companies, whereby many merchants and other individuals worked for several companies. Such companies also responded to European market trends by adjusting the range of goods traded.

Certain Scandinavian businesses developed sophisticated re-export markets within Europe, thus fostering the China-Europe tea trade. On the back of the tea trade came importation of porcelain, silk and other luxury products.

Investigation of craft skills and Indian export products included special study of 18th century textiles from Gujarat. The stage also examined 68 oral histories of regional craftspeople in terms of technologies, skills transmission and adaptation to world markets. Histories were digitised, summarised and translated into English, and made available publicly. The resource proved especially valuable for the people of Kachchh.

Other outputs included numerous journal papers, monographs and an edited volume, plus additional articles and book chapters.

The TRADE project's work helps illustrate the relationship between trade and history, particularly how Europe was empowered as a result of trade with Asia.

Related information


Asian, trade, European, Asian goods, manufacturing, East India Companies
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