Page 206 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 206

 the sale of precious metals in India sometimes produced a small profit. Nevertheless these changes were sweeping and made it necessary for the stream of silver and gold from the Republic to swell. The intra-Asiatictrade no longer filled the bill, nor did it produce sufficient articles for the barter trade. The European market demanded besides fine spices and pepper - a demand quickly reaching saturation point - more and more textiles and soon, in the eighteenth century, large quantities of luxury beverages.
Naturally these structural changes became also apparent in the sailing patterns of ships in Asia and on the way home. Earlier on mention was made of the development of direct links with the Republic other than those from Batavia and Ceylon. Textiles and tea in the eighteenth century acquired their own direct transport from producer to auction in Amsterdam or one of the other five chambers. Batavia's role in the homeward trade declined absolutely and proportionately. Until c. 1680 mostly eighty to one hundred per cent of goods - measured by cash price - was sent home from Batavia, from then on this figure became progressively lower. In the second half of the eighteenth century the share of the city on the Tjiliwung was nearly always below thirty per cent. But the importance of Ceylon also decreased in this respect, though only after 1720, when a level of ten to fifteen per cent became normal. This meant a halving of export value compared to the palmy days of 1680-1720. Bengal and China from c. 1740 filled the prominent place in exports. Then in a number of years exports from both Bengal and China each exceeded those from Batavia. The decline and complete disappearance of the Bengal trade after 1780 was a formidable loss.
The fact that in the long term Batavia steeply declined in significance as to the value of goods shipped from its harbours, and even found itself in third place in the 1770's, was the result of the already signalled structural changes in the commodity range for the Republic. But shipping itself - numbers of homeward ships and the tonnage involved - always remained much bigger in Batavia than in all other ports put together. This meant that the average value of cargoes from Bengal and China was many times higher than of those from Batavia (see table 42). It should be borne in mind in this respect that in the China trade the very largest ships were used. In the Bengal trade the limited draught of the Ganges excluded ships of the first rate.
Thus the following picture emerges of the Company as shipper of its own goods and owner of the vessels used. Until the final quarter of the seventeenth century fine spices and pepper determined the total sales value of imported goods and the sailing schedules of the homeward ships. The fact that after 1658 Ceylon had been largely brought under the Company's control strengthened the place of the fine spices for the time being and meant the insertion of the island's ports into the direct traffic with the Republic. The fast growing demand for Indian textiles and the consumption of coffee, but most of all of tea, then led to increased shipping in Batavia and Ceylon and the invoicing of higher sums in their accounts. The opening around 1730 of direct shipping from Bengal and China meant however that now a relatively small number of ships carried textiles and tea, purchased at great expense, from Bengal and China. Alongside this Batavia and Ceylon remained as before the ports whence a majority of ships with the usual cargoes - including part of the Indian textiles - headed via the Cape of Good Hope for the Republic.
Hidden behind the figures mentioned in this chapter are changes - mostly negative for the eighteenth century - in profits, in the relation between proceeds and costs, and in gross and net profits on the goods in total and separate. Also the rising costs of the maintenance of territorial power in Asia, and increasing competition from the British, French and other Europeans. In 1784 in India the important factory of Negapatnam had

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