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[Free Trade Decree.]

Reglamento y aranceles reales para el comercio libre de España a Indias de 12. de octubre de 1778.


Madrid, Imprenta de Pedro Marin, 1778.


4to.  (2) ff., 19, (1 blank), 262 pp.  With engraved frontispiece depicting the Royal arms.  Contemporary calf (head of spine worn, foot of spine defective).   Slight water-staining in preliminary ff, occasional contemporary ink annotations.

"On 12 October 1778 a reglamento establishing 'a free and protected trade' and consolidating all the previous concessions dismantled the traditional framework of colonial trade;  it lowered tariffs, ended the monopoly of Cadiz and Seville, opened free communications between the major ports of the peninsula and Spanish America, and heralded a new phase of the pacto colonial . . .   (It), however, was a limited freedom.   It abolished the monopoly of Cadiz but reaffirmed the monopoly of Spain;  it opened Spanish America to all Spaniards but closed it more firmly to the rest of the world.   The colonies were given more avenues into the Spanish market but denied access to the world market . . .   (It) was designed to make the colonial monopoly more effective . . .   If trade followed the flag, the tax collector was close behind the trader" (John Lynch, Bourbon Spain 1700-1808, p. 352-3).   "The decision of Charles III to promulgate the famous Reglamento para el comercio libre of 1778 on the symbolic date of 12 October, the anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus, was designed to emphasise the importance which he and his ministers attached to this fundamental measure of commercial reform” (Fisher, The Economic Aspects of Spanish Imperialism in America 1492-1810, p. 134).   "It might . . be concluded that insofar as Spanish exports to America were concerned, the introduction of 'free trade' caused a major expansion in agricultural and viticultural production, but without undermining either the role of Cádiz as the major peninsular port for trade with America, or, more seriously, promoting significant industrial growth in Spain" (ibid, p. 152).   "The last quarter of the eighteenth century was an era of unprecedented prosperity and economic growth for Spain and Spanish America, a period in which for the first time the metropolis succeeded in unleashing the agricultural potential of its American possessions, whilst also promoting the continued expansion of mining production.   The relationship between this economic growth and the liberalisation of trade is abundantly clear" (ibid, p. 197).

Palau 255843.   Sabin 68890.   Medina, BHA, 4845.   Aguilar Piñal X, 2481.   John Carter Brown Cat. 2506.   Kress Cat. S.4922.   Goldsmiths' Libr. Cat. 11717.  Not in Einaudi.    . 


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