Author: Rudy Bauss.
Bauss, Rudy. 1997. "Textiles, bullion and other trades of Goa: Commerce with Surat, other areas of India, Luso-Brazilian ports, Macau and Mozambique, 1816-1819." The Indian Economic & Social History Review 34 (3): 275-287. https://doi.org/10.1177/001946469703400301
A summary of the exports, imports, very impressive total trade figures and small balance of payments deficits demonstrates the commercial importance of Goa in comparison to other ports in coastal India and as a major emporium within the Portuguese empire. Goan imports from five South Asian areas and two Brazilian ports constituted 88 per cent of total imports: Surat (55 per cent), Balaghat (13 per cent), Rio de Janeiro and Bahia joined for 7 per cent, Mumbai and Calcutta combined for 7 per cent and north Indian ports totalled 6 per cent. Textiles, with well over 60 per cent of the total, dominated the import sector followed by opium, bullion, raw cotton, sugar, tea and betel nuts, especially from Ponda (a New Conquest area of the territory of Goa annexed in the late eighteenth century). Although tobacco figures were not given in any of the four documents since the product was a Crown monopoly, leaf valued at approximately 15,000 pound sterling entered Goa legally from Bahia on a yearly basis while contraband tobacco worth an additional 15,000 pound sterling entered from Balaghat.18 Four destinations accounted for 96 per cent of total Goan exports: Brazil, led by Rio de Janeiro with 72 per cent and followed by Bahia with 3 per cent, claimed 75 per cent of total exports. Lisbon had 8 per cent; Mumbai assumed 7 per cent and Macau purchased 6 per cent. Cotton piecegoods dominated the export sector with over 75 per cent. Opium accounted for about 5 per cent and foodstuffs and agricultural products such as betel nuts, copra, coconuts and pepper represented the bulk of remaining products. The total Goan trade in exports and imports totalled an impressive 1,000,000 pound sterling or nearly 3,600,000,000 reis or approximately 12,000,000 xerafins or Rs 10,000,000 per year for the period from 1816 to 1819. Surprisingly, the balance of payments difference was a small yearly deficit averaging 21,000 pound sterling. Consequently, Goa held an impressive station as one of the major entrepots of South Asia during a commercial boom between the 1780s and 1820s. Indian cotton piecegoods funnelled through Goa to the Portuguese Atlantic basin comprised 80 per cent of the total exports of the capital of Portuguese India. The most important research discovery was that Surat, another satellite in the worldwide British imperial system, supplied 55 per cent of all Goan imports during the period under consideration. Surat exported textiles directly to Lisbon after the 1790s and to Rio de Janeiro after 1808. Surat, north Indian ports in or adjacent to Gujarat, Balaghat and Bengal directly supplied over 75 per cent of all Goan imports. Textiles were the pre-eminent imports of Goa. The Goa-Surat-Portuguese Atlantic connections expired due to the successful machinations of British trade and commercial policies in India, Brazil and Portugal in the 1820s.19 Bullion remittances, according to official Portuguese imperial archival sources, from the Luso-Brazilian communities to South Asia averaged 560,000 pound sterling annually from 1816 to 1819. Since 165,000 went directly to Calcutta and 20,000 to Goa, 375,000 pound sterling of silver and gold are unaccounted for in India. Surat, with 15,000 looms, and extensive reports of prior trading with the Portuguese, was the only city and hinterland which could have provided such impressive quantities of cotton cloth to the markets in Brazil and Portugal in exchange for this most impressive quantity of gold. Consequently, there probably existed a very large, direct and as yet undocumented trade from Surat to Lisbon starting in the 1790s and direct links to Rio de Janeiro after 1808. The international markets for textiles dispatched from Surat and the quantities of Brazilian bullion entering India are two well-hidden secrets of the economic history of South Asia and the Portuguese presence in India. This raises an intriguing question: Was Surat in such an advanced state of decline in the early 1800s as suggested by contemporary historians in recent publications?20 Baniyas, Parsees, Jains, Saraswat Brahmins and British traders easily overpowered the weak, Catholic commercial interests in Portuguese India. Hindu economic power also dominated the Portuguese eastern empire to a greater degree than has been previously assumed. Archival sources may well support Hindu claims to significantly more economic influence in trade and commerce of the remaining areas of India.