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The Trade in Colonial Commodities: Introducing the Exotic

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with colonial goods which, for most people, come immediately to mind when discussing international trade in the eighteenth century; particularly as such goods play the leading role in international literature on the subject. It has regularly been argued that colonial trade was the main branch of commerce in the eighteenth century, even for the Austrian Netherlands. Colonial goods may have functioned as substitutes for traditional foods and raw materials and thereby helped to mitigate ecological constraints posed by traditional agriculture. The exotic commodities examined in the chapter (principally coffee, tea, sugar, dyestuffs and cocoa) each had their own particularities, yet all were largely intended for direct human consumption. Colonial imports clearly constituted a major share of overall imports and were generally increasing, albeit not always as steeply as expected. The chapter reinforces arguments for the intrinsic strength of the home market and its emerging industries.

Keywords: Austrian Netherlands; colonial commodities; international trade; market capacity; traditional agriculture



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