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Q:- Discuss the state of India's foreign trade during the colonial rule. (6 marks).
And:- State of India's Foreign Trade Under the Colonial Rule

Objective

In this lesson we will study the state of India's foreign trade under the colonial rule.

State of India's Foreign Trade Under the Colonial Rule

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India occupied a prominent place in the world trade since the ancient times. Indian cotton and silk textile, gems and precious stones work, ivory and stone work were world famous.

However,?the trade and tariff policies pursued by the British Government adversely affected the composition, direction and volume of India's foreign trade. The trade and tariff policies were moulded by the Colonial government so as to serve their own interest. The following are the factors that led to a distressed state of foreign trade sector.

1.?Discriminatory tariff policy:?The British government followed a?discriminatory tariff policy. Under the policy, they?imposed heavy tariffs (export duties) on India's export of handicraft products, while allowing free export of India's raw material to Britain and free import of British products to India. This made the Indian exports costlier in the international market and their demand fell drastically.?India was converted into an exporter of primary products?(such as sugar, silk, jute, indigo, cotton, wool, etc.)?and importer of British finished goods?(such as cotton, silk and woollen clothes, capital goods and other finished goods).

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2.?Monopoly control over trade: The British rule affected not only the composition of trade, but also the?direction of foreign trade. In the form of their exploitative policy, the British maintained a monopoly control over India's foreign trade. At that time, more than half of India's foreign trade was restricted to Britain and the rest was directed towards China, Persia and Sri Lanka. Export of Indian primary products served as raw material to the British industry while, the import of finished goods provided an easily accessible market to the British industry.

3.?Opening of Suez Canal:?The monopoly control by the British Government was further intensified by the opening up of Suez canal in 1869. Suez Canal is an important artificial waterway running from North to South across Isthmus of Suez in North-eastern Egypt. This canal provided a direct ship route between India and Britain avoiding the need to go via the African continent. With the opening up of this canal, the cost of transportation between India and Britain reduced significantly. This resulted in a fast movement of goods between the countries. As a consequence, the trade between India and Britain further intensified.?

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An interesting aspect of India's foreign trade during the colonial rule was that?India enjoyed a huge export surplus. However, it should be noted that such an export surplus was generated?on account of the export of primary products. Thus, while the primary goods served as raw material to the British industries, several essential commodities including food grains remained in short supply in the domestic market. Furthermore, the?revenue generated from the export surplus was never used to develop the Indian economy. Rather, it was used to meet the administrative expenditure and other colonial pursuits of the British Government. The revenue was also used to finance expenses on war fought by the British. In addition, there was hardly any flow of gold and silver into India. This, according to Dada bhai Naroji, implied huge?Drain of Wealth.
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