Thursday, September 24, 2009

Trade between the Middle East and India

This week’s reading focused on the trade of the Middle East between the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and the Persian Gulf during the 13th and 14th century. There was a time that all areas traded together without competition, but then the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf became competitive. The Persian Gulf was used more for a while because of the calmer seas and more trade and goods were moved through there. The Persian Gulf then lost its standing because of conflict and economic problems, which allowed the Red Sea trade to grow. The Persian Gulf was a lower on the trading pole than the Red Sea. This allowed Egypt to rise and become hegemony at that time. Egypt’s stand in the trade eventually faded leading to the rise of India. India in the world trade system was more export than import. India had everything to sustain itself and most trade was brought to them. Since India exported more than imported proved how industrialized they were.
I found it interesting how large the Middle East and Egypt were in the world trade system during the 13th and 14th century, because the Middle East, especially, is consumed with war today. It is very hard to picture all roads leading to Baghdad.
One question in class was interesting was how weather could affect trade. Thinking about the amount of trade, during the 13th and 14th century especially, used maritime would definitely be effected by weather. The Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, and Persian Gulf all surround the Middle East and were all used for trade. If there are high winds or storms over those waters it will slow down the trade between countries. In the book the Red Sea is talked about being extremely rough, so getting trade through that area is rough and you have a lot of lives in danger. If there is ever an extreme weather like there was during Katrina hurricane in present time than you the economy is surely going to be devastated.


  1. You mentioned Baghdad, Egypt and India to be economic leaders in the 13th and 14th centuries, and especially emphasized how successful India ultimately became during that time. Specifically, you attributed India's entire success to having more exports than imports. I agree with this importance, but am curious how this might relate to the poverty in India today. Is India no longer exporting more than they are importing? What caused the decline of India's hegemonic power within the world trade system?

  2. I would attribute the fall of India to primarily their lack of naval power and their location in the pre-world system. Once China's presence was no more in the Indian Ocean, this opened the door for the Portuguese. The Portuguese taxes really closed the door on India because the Portuguese formed a world system to work for them. Obviously, lack of a navy to stop the Portuguese Men O War means lack of control over the Indian Ocean as the Portuguese regulate trade heavily to key ports.

  3. I also found it interesting how the weather could control trade. The destiny of a trade route depends on something that is out of the control of any type of power. No intelligence can overcome any type of weathers or natural disasters. It's also interesting because we can never really predict weather conditions for the future. And even the predictions we have currently are not even 100% reliable. Weather is spontaneous and we may never know when any country becomes wealthier because of the weather being in their favor.