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Title: Foreign Trade of British Raj at the Turn of the 20th Century: Analyzing Materials from Russia’s Diplomatic Missions
Other Titles: Внешняя торговля Британской Индии на рубеже XIX–XX вв. (по материалам дипломатических представительств России)
Authors: Kryuchkov, I. V.
Крючков, И. В.
Kryuchkova, N. D.
Крючкова, Н. Д.
Keywords: British Raj;Colonial policy;Exports;Foreign trade;Imports;Persian Gulf
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Kalmyk Scientific Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences
Citation: Kryuchkov, I.V., Kryuchkova, N.D., Melkonyan, A.A. Foreign Trade of British Raj at the Turn of the 20th Century: Analyzing Materials from Russia’s Diplomatic Missions // Oriental Studies. - 2022. - Том 15. - Выпуск 2. - Стр.: 200 - 213. - DOI10.22162/2619-0990-2022-60-2-200-213
Series/Report no.: Oriental Studies
Abstract: The history of British Raj’s foreign economic activity development at the turn of the 20th century remains somewhat understudied both in Russian and foreign historiography. Since the 1880s, India significantly increased foreign trade to become Asia’s leader in this regard. Goals. The paper aims at examining dynamics of India’s export-import operations and foreign trade by countries. Materials and methods. The article analyzes reports and accounts of Russian diplomats to have worked in British Raj, the Near East, and Great Britain. The employed research methods include the historical/genetic, comparative historical, and historical/typological ones. Results. Britain had been India’s dominating trading partner. However, gradually other states also increased trade operations with the latter, especially import ones. The paper emphasizes Russia failed to become a key foreign trade partner of British Raj (except for export of kerosene and import of tea). The identified reasons are contentious British-Russian relations in Central Asia in the 1860s–1890s, poor knowledge of the Indian market, and geographical remoteness. British Raj turned an outpost of Great Britain’s economic strength in the Persian Gulf. At the same time, Indian goods displaced products from other countries — including Britain manufactured ones — in many ports of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula. The article stresses that the bulk of India’s foreign economic relations were maintained via maritime transport. This was due to complicated natural and climatic factors along land borders, instability in frontiers (Afghanistan and Persia). Nonetheless, British Raj was increasing its economic presence in Afghanistan, Persia, Nepal, Ceylon, Siam, and western provinces of China. An important place in India’s foreign trade was occupied by transit trade and re-export of goods from other states, which makes it difficult to accurately determine the actual volume of its foreign trade. Conclusions. The specifics of India’s national economic development can thus be traced in the structure of its foreign trade. The exports were dominated by raw materials and foodstuffs; manufactured products were only making their way to foreign markets. The difficulties were largely associated with the Great Britain’s colonial policy in India since the former sought to keep using the latter as a market for industrial products produced in the British Isles. On the eve of WW I, British Raj was building up its economic potential through strengthening its positions in world trade
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