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International Trade and British Economic Growth: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day


This book examines the relationship between international trade and domestic economic growth in Britain since the eighteenth century. It was during this time that Britain enjoyed first a dominant role in world trade and then, from the outbreak of the First World War, saw its economic strength eclipsed by other emerging international powers. The essays here focus on two central concerns in the history of British economic development in the period: was overseas and colonial trade in the eighteenth century the principal motor of British industrial development? Has the structure of Britain's overseas trade in the twentieth century been one of the factors contributing to the "decline of the British industrial economy"?

In exploring these central ideas, the book examines the evolving structures of British commercial relations, the development and impact of commercial policies and Britain's changing international economic position. The volume contains both general essays which survey current debates and chapters dealing with more specific issues, including, for example, the role of the Atlantic trade in British economic growth in the eighteenth century; the impact of British trade on Continental Europe in the first half of the nineteeth century and the commercial factors which determined Britain's reaction to the founding of the European Community. The collection draws on distinguished scholars, whose work together offers an important contribution to our understanding of Britain's economic development during this pivotal period and to the wider debate on the relationship between trade and economic growth.

Peter Mathis is former Master of Downing College, Cambridge and Chichele Professor of Economic History in Oxford.

John A. Davis holds the Emiliana Pasca Noether Chair in Modern Italian History at the University of Connecticut.


1. Atlantic Trade and British Economic Growth in the Eighteenth Century: Kenneth Morgan (Brunel University College).

2. British Trade and European Economic Development 1750-1850: Sidney Pollard (University of Sheffield and Bielefeld).

3. Nineteenth Century Ocean Trade and Transport: Peter Davies (University of Liverpool).

4. Exports and British Economic Growth (1850-1914): Charles Fainstein (All Souls College, Oxford).

5. Trade Policy and Growth: Some European Experiences (1850-1940): Forrest Capie (City University Business School).

6. British Trade with Latin America (1870-1950): Rory Miller (University of Liverpool).

7. Imperial Power and Foreign Trade: Britain and India (1900-1970): B. R. Tomlinson (University of Strathclyde).

Notes and Bibliographies.


List of Contributors.