Trade involves the transfer of goods or services from one person or
entity to another, often in exchange for money. A system or network
that allows trade is called a market.
The original form of trade, barter, saw the direct exchange of goods
and services for other goods and services.[need quotation to
Barter involves trading things without the use of money.
Later one bartering party started to involve precious metals, which
gained symbolic as well as practical importance. Modern traders
generally negotiate through a medium of exchange, such as money. As a
result, buying can be separated from selling, or earning. The
invention of money (and later credit, paper money and of non-physical
money) greatly simplified and promoted trade.
Trade between two
traders is called bilateral trade, while trade between more than two
traders is called multilateral trade.
Trade exists due to specialization and the division of labor - a
predominant form of economic activity in which individuals and groups
concentrate on a small aspect of production, but use their output in
trades for other products and needs.[dead link]
between regions because different regions may have a comparative
advantage (perceived or real) in the production of some trade-able
commodity—including production of natural resources scarce or
limited elsewhere, or because different regions' size may encourage
mass production. As such, trade at market prices between locations
can benefit both locations.
Retail trade consists of the sale of goods or merchandise from a very
fixed location (such as a department store, boutique or kiosk),
online or by mail, in small or individual lots for direct consumption
or use by the purchaser.
Wholesale trade is defined[by whom?] as
traffic in goods that are sold as merchandise to retailers, or to
industrial, commercial, institutional, or other professional business
users, or to other wholesalers and related subordinated
services.[not in citation given]
2.2 Ancient history
2.3 Later trade
Mediterranean and Near East
2.3.2 The Orient
2.3.3 Central America
2.4 Middle Ages
2.5 The Age of Sail and the Industrial Revolution
2.6 19th century
2.7 20th century
2.8 21st century
2.9 Free trade
3.3 Development of money
5 International trade
6 See also
9 External links
Commerce is derived from the
Latin commercium, from cum and merx,
Trade from Middle English trade (“path, course of conduct”),
introduced into English by Hanseatic merchants, from Middle Low German
trade (“track, course”), from Old Saxon trada (“spoor,
track”), from Proto-Germanic *tradō (“track, way”), and cognate
Old English tredan (“to tread”).
Economic history of the world
Economic history of the world and Timeline of international
Trade originated with human communication in prehistoric times.
Trading was the main facility of prehistoric people, who bartered
goods and services from each other before the innovation of modern-day
currency. Peter Watson dates the history of long-distance commerce
from circa 150,000 years ago.
Mediterranean region the earliest contact between cultures were
of members of the species Homo sapiens principally using the Danube
river, at a time beginning 35,000–30,000 BCE.
Some trace the origins of commerce to the very start of transaction in
prehistoric times. Apart from traditional self-sufficiency, trading
became a principal facility of prehistoric people, who bartered what
they had for goods and services from each other.
The caduceus has been used today as the symbol of commerce with
which Mercury has traditionally been associated.
Ancient Etruscan "aryballoi" terracota vessels unearthed in the 1860s
at Bolzhaya Bliznitsa tumulus near Phanagoria, South Russia (then part
Bosporan Kingdom of Cimmerian Bosporus); on exhibit at the
Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Trade is believed to have taken place throughout much of recorded
human history. There is evidence of the exchange of obsidian and flint
during the stone age.
Trade in obsidian is believed to have taken
Guinea from 17,000 BCE.
The earliest use of obsidian in the Near East dates to the Lower and
Prince Mikasa no Miya Takahito
Trade in the stone age was investigated by
Robert Carr Bosanquet in
excavations of 1901.
Trade is believed to have first begun in
south west Asia.
Archaeological evidence of obsidian use provides data on how this
material was increasingly the preferred choice rather than chert from
the late Mesolithic to Neolithic, requiring exchange as deposits of
obsidian are rare in the
Obsidian is thought to have provided the material to make cutting
utensils or tools, although since other more easily obtainable
materials were available, use was found exclusive to the higher status
of the tribe using "the rich man's flint".
Obsidian was traded at distances of 900 kilometres within the
Trade in the
Mediterranean during the Neolithic of Europe was greatest
in this material. Networks were in existence at around 12,000
BCE Anatolia was the source primarily for trade with the Levant,
Iran and Egypt according to Zarins study of 1990. Melos
Lipari sources produced among the most widespread trading in the
Mediterranean region as known to archaeology.
The Sari-i-Sang mine in the mountains of Afghanistan was the largest
source for trade of lapis lazuli. The material was most
largely traded during the Kassite period of Babylonia beginning 1595
Mediterranean and Near East
Ebla was a prominent trading centre during the third millennia, with a
network reaching into Anatolia and north Mesopotamia.
A map of the
Silk Road trade route between Europe and Asia.
Materials used for creating jewelry were traded with Egypt since 3000
BCE. Long-range trade routes first appeared in the 3rd millennium BCE,
when Sumerians in
Mesopotamia traded with the Harappan civilization of
the Indus Valley. The
Phoenicians were noted sea traders, traveling
Mediterranean Sea, and as far north as Britain for sources
of tin to manufacture bronze. For this purpose they established trade
colonies the Greeks called emporia.
From the beginning of Greek civilization until the fall of the Roman
empire in the 5th century, a financially lucrative trade brought
valuable spice to Europe from the far east, including India and China.
Roman commerce allowed its empire to flourish and endure. The latter
Roman Republic and the
Pax Romana of the
Roman empire produced a
stable and secure transportation network that enabled the shipment of
trade goods without fear of significant piracy, as Rome had become the
sole effective sea power in the
Mediterranean with the conquest of
Egypt and the near east.
In ancient Greece
Hermes was the god of trade (commerce) and
weights and measures, for Romans Mercurius also god of merchants,
whose festival was celebrated by traders on the 25th day of the fifth
month. The concept of free trade was an antithesis to the will
and economic direction of the sovereigns of the ancient Greek states.
Free trade between states was stifled by the need for strict internal
controls (via taxation) to maintain security within the treasury of
the sovereign, which nevertheless enabled the maintenance of a modicum
of civility within the structures of functional community
The fall of the Roman empire, and the succeeding Dark Ages brought
Western Europe and a near collapse of the trade network
in the western world.
Trade however continued to flourish among the
kingdoms of Africa, Middle East, India, China and Southeast Asia. Some
trade did occur in the west. For instance, Radhanites were a medieval
guild or group (the precise meaning of the word is lost to history) of
Jewish merchants who traded between the Christians in Europe and the
Muslims of the Near East.
Archaeological evidence (Greenberg 1951) of the first use of
trade-marks are from China dated about 2700 BCE.
The emergence of exchange networks in the Pre-Columbian societies of
and near to Mexico are known to have occurred within recent years
before and after 1500 BCE.
During the Middle Ages, commerce developed in Europe by trading luxury
goods at trade fairs. Wealth became converted into movable wealth or
capital. Banking systems developed where money on account was
transferred across national boundaries. Hand to hand markets became a
feature of town life, and were regulated by town authorities.
Western Europe established a complex and expansive trade network with
cargo ships being the main workhorse for the movement of goods, Cogs
and Hulks are two examples of such cargo ships. Many ports would
develop their own extensive trade networks. The English port city of
Bristol traded with peoples from what is modern day Iceland, all along
the western coast of France, and down to what is now Spain.
A map showing the main trade routes for goods within late medieval
During the Middle Ages, Central Asia was the economic center of the
world. The Sogdians dominated the East-West trade route known as
Silk Road after the 4th century CE up to the 8th century CE, with
Suyab and Talas ranking among their main centers in the north. They
were the main caravan merchants of Central Asia.
From the 8th to the 11th century, the Vikings and
Varangians traded as
they sailed from and to Scandinavia. Vikings sailed to Western Europe,
Varangians to Russia. The
Hanseatic League was an alliance of
trading cities that maintained a trade monopoly over most of Northern
Europe and the Baltic, between the 13th and 17th centuries.
The Age of Sail and the Industrial Revolution
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama pioneered the European
Spice trade in 1498 when he
reached Calicut after sailing around the
Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope at the
southern tip of the African continent. Prior to this, the flow of
spice into Europe from India was controlled by Islamic powers,
especially Egypt. The spice trade was of major economic importance and
helped spur the
Age of Discovery
Age of Discovery in Europe. Spices brought to Europe
from the Eastern world were some of the most valuable commodities for
their weight, sometimes rivaling gold.
In the 16th century, the
Seventeen Provinces were the centre of free
trade, imposing no exchange controls, and advocating the free movement
Trade in the
East Indies was dominated by Portugal in the
16th century, the
Dutch Republic in the 17th century, and the British
in the 18th century. The
Spanish Empire developed regular trade links
across both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.
Danzig in the 17th century, a port of the Hanseatic League.
Adam Smith published the paper An Inquiry into the Nature and
Causes of the Wealth of Nations. It criticised Mercantilism, and
argued that economic specialisation could benefit nations just as much
as firms. Since the division of labour was restricted by the size of
the market, he said that countries having access to larger markets
would be able to divide labour more efficiently and thereby become
more productive. Smith said that he considered all rationalisations of
import and export controls "dupery", which hurt the trading nation as
a whole for the benefit of specific industries.
In 1799, the Dutch East India Company, formerly the world's largest
company, became bankrupt, partly due to the rise of competitive free
Berber trade with Timbuktu, 1853.
In 1817, David Ricardo,
James Mill and
Robert Torrens showed that free
trade would benefit the industrially weak as well as the strong, in
the famous theory of comparative advantage. In Principles of Political
Economy and Taxation Ricardo advanced the doctrine still considered
the most counterintuitive in economics:
When an inefficient producer sends the merchandise it produces best to
a country able to produce it more efficiently, both countries benefit.
The ascendancy of free trade was primarily based on national advantage
in the mid 19th century. That is, the calculation made was whether it
was in any particular country's self-interest to open its borders to
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill proved that a country with monopoly pricing power on
the international market could manipulate the terms of trade through
maintaining tariffs, and that the response to this might be
reciprocity in trade policy. Ricardo and others had suggested this
earlier. This was taken as evidence against the universal doctrine of
free trade, as it was believed that more of the economic surplus of
trade would accrue to a country following reciprocal, rather than
completely free, trade policies. This was followed within a few years
by the infant industry scenario developed by Mill promoting the theory
that government had the duty to protect young industries, although
only for a time necessary for them to develop full capacity. This
became the policy in many countries attempting to industrialise and
out-compete English exporters.
Milton Friedman later continued this
vein of thought, showing that in a few circumstances tariffs might be
beneficial to the host country; but never for the world at large.
Great Depression was a major economic recession that ran from 1929
to the late 1930s. During this period, there was a great drop in trade
and other economic indicators.
The lack of free trade was considered by many as a principal cause of
the depression causing stagnation and inflation. Only during the
World War II
World War II the recession ended in the United States. Also during the
war, in 1944, 44 countries signed the Bretton Woods Agreement,
intended to prevent national trade barriers, to avoid depressions. It
set up rules and institutions to regulate the international political
International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund and the International Bank
for Reconstruction and Development (later divided into the World Bank
and Bank for International Settlements). These organisations became
operational in 1946 after enough countries ratified the agreement. In
1947, 23 countries agreed to the General Agreement on Tariffs and
Trade to promote free trade.
European Union became the world's largest exporter of manufactured
goods and services, the biggest export market for around 80
See also: Globalization
Today, trade is merely a subset within a complex system of companies
which try to maximize their profits by offering products and services
to the market (which consists both of individuals and other companies)
at the lowest production cost. A system of international trade has
helped to develop the world economy but, in combination with bilateral
or multilateral agreements to lower tariffs or to achieve free trade,
has sometimes harmed third-world markets for local products.
Main article: Free trade
Free trade advanced further in the late 20th century and early 2000s:
European Union lifted barriers to internal trade in goods and
January 1, 1994 the
North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took
1994 The GATT
Marrakech Agreement specified formation of the WTO.
January 1, 1995 World
Organization was created to facilitate
free trade, by mandating mutual most favoured nation trading status
between all signatories.
EC was transformed into the European Union, which accomplished the
Economic and Monnetary Union (EMU) in 2002, through introducing the
Euro, and creating this way a real single market between 13 member
states as of January 1, 2007.
Intérêts des nations de l'Europe, dévélopés relativement au
Central American Free Trade Agreement
Central American Free Trade Agreement was signed; It
includes the United States and the Dominican Republic.
Main article: Protectionism
Protectionism is the policy of restraining and discouraging trade
between states and contrasts with the policy of free trade. This
policy often takes of form of tariffs and restrictive quotas.
Protectionist policies were particularly prevalent in the 1930s,
Great Depression and the onset of World War II.
Islamic teachings encourage trading (and condemn usury or interest).
By trade, the whole society gets benefits but self-interest makes the
rich richer and the poor poorer.
Christian teachings prohibit fraud and dishonest measures, and
historically also forbade the charging of interest on loans.
Development of money
Main article: History of money
A Roman denarius.
The first instances of money were objects with intrinsic value. This
is called commodity money and includes any commonly available
commodity that has intrinsic value; historical examples include pigs,
rare seashells, whale's teeth, and (often) cattle. In medieval Iraq,
bread was used as an early form of money. In Mexico under Montezuma
cocoa beans were money. 
Currency was introduced as a standardised money to facilitate a wider
exchange of goods and services. This first stage of currency, where
metals were used to represent stored value, and symbols to represent
commodities, formed the basis of trade in the Fertile Crescent for
over 1500 years.
Numismatists have examples of coins from the earliest large-scale
societies, although these were initially unmarked lumps of precious
Bitcoin and other
Cryptocurrency provide a worldwide payment system
for decentralized digital currency.
Doha round of World
Organization negotiations aimed to lower
barriers to trade around the world, with a focus on making trade
fairer for developing countries. Talks have been hung over a divide
between the rich developed countries, represented by the G20, and the
major developing countries.
Agricultural subsidies are the most
significant issue upon which agreement has been hardest to negotiate.
By contrast, there was much agreement on trade facilitation and
capacity building. The
Doha round began in Doha, Qatar, and
negotiations were continued in: Cancún, Mexico; Geneva, Switzerland;
France and Hong Kong.
Beginning around 1978, the government of the People's Republic of
China (PRC) began an experiment in economic reform. In contrast to the
previous Soviet-style centrally planned economy, the new measures
progressively relaxed restrictions on farming, agricultural
distribution and, several years later, urban enterprises and labor.
The more market-oriented approach reduced inefficiencies and
stimulated private investment, particularly by farmers, that led to
increased productivity and output. One feature was the establishment
of four (later five)
Economic Zones located along the
South-east coast.
The reforms proved spectacularly successful in terms of increased
output, variety, quality, price and demand. In real terms, the economy
doubled in size between 1978 and 1986, doubled again by 1994, and
again by 2003. On a real per capita basis, doubling from the 1978 base
took place in 1987, 1996 and 2006. By 2008, the economy was 16.7 times
the size it was in 1978, and 12.1 times its previous per capita
International trade progressed even more rapidly, doubling on
average every 4.5 years. Total two-way trade in January 1998 exceeded
that for all of 1978; in the first quarter of 2009, trade exceeded the
full-year 1998 level. In 2008, China's two-way trade totaled US$2.56
In 1991 China joined the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation group, a
In 2001, it also joined the World Trade
Main article: International trade
Part of a series on
Balance of trade
Tax, tariff and trade
Exchange rate controls
Voluntary export restraints
International Monetary Fund
World Customs Organization
Preferential trading area
Free trade area
Customs and monetary union
Economic and monetary union
Intellectual property rights
Trade and development
Largest consumer markets
Leading trade partners
New trade theory
Gravity model of trade
Ricardian trade theories
Lerner symmetry theorem
Terms of trade
International trade is the exchange of goods and services across
national borders. In most countries, it represents a significant part
of GDP. While international trade has been present throughout much of
history (see Silk Road, Amber Road), its economic, social, and
political importance have increased in recent centuries, mainly
because of Industrialization, advanced transportation, globalization,
multinational corporations, and outsourcing.
Empirical evidence for the success of trade can be seen in the
contrast between countries such as South Korea, which adopted a policy
of export-oriented industrialization, and India, which historically
had a more closed policy.
South Korea has done much better by economic
criteria than India over the past fifty years, though its success also
has to do with effective state institutions.
Trade sanctions against a specific country are sometimes imposed, in
order to punish that country for some action. An embargo, a severe
form of externally imposed isolation, is a blockade of all trade by
one country on another. For example, the United States has had an
Cuba for over 40 years.
International trade, which is governed by the World Trade
Organization, can be restricted by both tariff and non-tariff
International trade is usually regulated by governmental
quotas and restrictions, and often taxed by tariffs. Tariffs are
usually on imports, but sometimes countries may impose export tariffs
or subsidies. Non-tariff barriers include Sanitary and Phytosanitary
rules, labeling requirements and food safety regulations. All of these
are called trade barriers. If a government removes all trade barriers,
a condition of free trade exists. A government that implements a
protectionist policy establishes trade barriers. There are usually few
trade restrictions within countries although a common feature of many
developing countries is police and other road blocks along main
highways, that primarily exist to extract bribes.
The "fair trade" movement, also known as the "trade justice" movement,
promotes the use of labour, environmental and social standards for the
production of commodities, particularly those exported from the Third
and Second Worlds to the First World. Such ideas have also sparked a
debate on whether trade itself should be codified as a human
Importing firms voluntarily adhere to fair trade standards or
governments may enforce them through a combination of employment and
commercial law. Proposed and practiced fair trade policies vary
widely, ranging from the common prohibition of goods made using slave
labour to minimum price support schemes such as those for coffee in
the 1980s. Non-governmental organizations also play a role in
promoting fair trade standards by serving as independent monitors of
compliance with labeling requirements. As such, it is
a form of Protectionism.
Bachelor of Commerce
Master of Commerce
List of trading companies
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Canadian Journal of
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post, usually for the Ancient Greeks, on the territory of another
ancient nation, in this case the Ancient Thracian Odrysian Kingdom
(5th century BC – 1st century AD), the most powerful Thracian
Pax Romana let average villagers throughout the Empire conduct day
to day affairs without fear of armed attack.
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Price theory Milton Friedman
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people from my Ummah (nation) as traders" and "Trader, who did trading
in truth, and sold the right quantity and quality of goods, he will
stand along Prophets and Martyrs, on Judgment day".
^ "O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in
vanities; but let there be among you traffic and trade by mutual
good-will." Quran 4:29 and "Allah has allowed trading and
forbidden usury." Quran 2:275
^ Leviticus 19:13
^ Leviticus 19:35
Gold was an especially common form of early money, as described in
^ Division, US Census Bureau Foreign Trade. "Foreign Trade: Data".
www.census.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
Cuba Relations". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved
^ "Should trade be considered a human right?". COPLA. 9 December 2008.
Archived from the original on 29 April 2011.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Trade.
Beckwith, Christopher I (2011) . Empires of the Silk Road: A
History of Central Eurasia from the
Bronze Age to the Present.
Princeton: University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-15034-5.
Bernstein, William (2008). A Splendid Exchange: How
Trade Shaped the
World. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-4416-4.
Davies, Glyn (2002) . Ideas: A History of
Money from Ancient
Times to the Present Day. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Nomani, Farhad; Rahnema, Ali (1994). Islamic
Economic Systems. New
Jersey: Zed Books. ISBN 1-85649-058-0.
Paine, Lincoln (2013). The Sea and Civilisation: a Maritime History of
the World. Atlantic. (Covers sea-trading over the whole world
from ancient times.)
Watson, Peter (2005). Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention from
Fire to Freud. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Look up trade in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Agritrade Resource material on trade by ACP countries
World Integrated Trade Solution provides summary trade
statistics and custom query features
World Bank's Preferential
Trade Agreement Database
Part of a series on trade routes
Maritime Silk Road
Tea Horse Road
Varangians to the Greeks
Volga trade route
Old Salt Route