Sinews of trade and empire: the supply of commodity exports to the East India Company during the late eighteenth century



It has long been thought that the East India Company's export trade was of little importance to the domestic economy. This article challenges such a view by providing a detailed reconstruction of the supply systems through which goods were procured for shipment to Asia. As well as quantifying Company expenditure on commodities and identifying regional industries linked to the East India trade, the article demonstrates how manufactures and raw materials needed to be adapted to the special demands of Asian markets. It concludes that the Company's domestic economic influence was far more widely felt than has hitherto been acknowledged.