In the early days of trade, how did people trade overseas?

2024-04-26

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In recent years, the cost of sea freight for many goods, especially coal, has fallen repeatedly relative to land freight; partly because the cost of building and operating ships has fallen faster than the cost of building and operating railways; at the same time, electrical and other equipment for loading and unloading bulky goods has also reduced the cost of loading and unloading by sea more than by land.

Mechanical equipment used for verbal and other means of communication between buyers and sellers also falls into this category. With the advent of railways, human physical exertion, fatigue and pain of long journeys have been greatly reduced, and improvements in land and sea transportation are rapidly reducing the cost of some long-distance trade. The telephone and telegraph are having the same effect in many kinds of trade.

Bills of exchange and other primary instruments in world financial markets have long facilitated long-distance trade. Some thirty years ago, the advent of express mail and the telegraph led to the development of the role of these tools, approaching their present level. It is true that the improvement of such instruments will promote international and domestic trade in the same way, but generally speaking, it is more important for long-distance trade than for short-distance trade.

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