Many of the principles we know today about the world economy were first discovered in Early Modern Asia. The Portuguese and the Spanish were the first to extend their sphere of trade to encompass the world. In the beginning of the seventeenth century, the English, Dutch, French, Danes, Swedes and others, all made their way past the Cape of Good Hope seeking their share of the Asian trade. By the middle of the century, one of them became so successful that, aside from being the envy of the others, they set a new standard of efficiency in global operations. It was of course the Dutch.
Paul van Dyke is a PhD candidate at the Department of History at the University of Southern California. He is presently doing research on the Canton trade from 1690 to 1840.