Re-examining the Foreign Trade Structure of the Colonial Philippines:

With Special Reference to the "Intra-Asian Trade" *

by Yoshiko NAGANO

Faculty of Foreign Studies

Kanagawa University, Yokohama

    I. Introduction

    II. Location of Materials on the Historical Trade Statistics of the Philippines

    III. The Total Amount of Philippine Foregn Trade : 1831-1940

    IV. The Characteristics of Trade Statistics by Country : 1855-1940

    V. Trends and Directions of Foreign Trade by Country : 1855-1940

    VI. Conclusion


      Table 1 Location of Materials on Philippine Trade Statistics

      Table 2 The Amount of Philippine Exports by Country : 1855-1940

      Table 3 The Amount of Philippine Imports by Country : 1855-1940

      Chart 1 The Trend of Philippine Foreign Trade, 1831-1940

      Chart 2 Philippine Exports, 1855-1940

      Chart 3 Philippine Imports, 1855-1940

I. Introduction

Much has been already written on the pattern of the foreign trade of the Philippines from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. Benito F. Legarda's dissertation entitled: "Foreign Trade, Economic Change and Entrepreneurship in the Nineteenth-Century Philippines" has served as an essential study on the Philippine foreign trade during the 19th century [Legarda:1955], while various official publications have given us basic data on its trade during the American colonial period. It has been widely accepted that the United States gradually replaced the United Kingdom as the major trade partner of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, and that the United States had established its position as the dominat trade partner of the Philippines by the early 1920s. However, it is very important to observe the role of Asian countries in the Philippine foreign trade from the late 19th century to the American period.

At the mid-1980s, the discussion on the "intra-Asian trade" among China, Japan, Southeast Asia and India was initiated by Kaoru Sugihara and it has drawn close attention in studies on the Asian economic history in Japan and elsewhere. In 1994, a book entitled: Japanese Industrialization and the Asian Economy (eds. A.J.H. Latham and Heita Kawakatsu, London: Routledge) was published, which included a paper entitled: "The Dynamics of Intra-Asian Trade, 1868-1913: The Great Entrepots of Singapore and Hong Kong" by A. J. H. Latham[Latham: 1993]. As far as this study is concerned, the Philippines' trade with Singapore and Hongkong in the early 1910s was of only minor importance. In a recent book entitled: The Formation and Structure of the Intra-Asian Trade (in Japanese) (Tokyo: Mineruva Shobo, 1996), Kaoru Sugihara also states that the Philippines had a minor position in the "intra-Asian trade" in the first half of the 20th century, thereby being considered as an exception of Southeast Asian countries [Sugihara:1996].

However, did the Philippines really play only minor role in the "intra-Asian trade" from the mid-19th century to the American colonial period? Without examining the trade statistics of the 19th and 20th centuries carefully, we can not determine the role of the Philippines in the "intra-Asian trade." What kind of trade relations did the Philippines have with other Southeast Asian countries? Did Hongkong, Singapore, China or Japan play important roles as trade partners with the Philippines? In this paper, the trade structure of the Philippines from the mid-1850s to the American period is re-examined, focusing on its changing structure at the turn of the century.

* Paper presented at IV Congreso Internacional de la Asociacion Espanola de Estudios del Pacifico, Valladorid, Spain, November 26-29, 1997. This is an abridged version of chapter IV of the author's discussion paper entitled: "Re-examining the Foreign Trade Structure of the Colonial Philippines:

With Special Reference to the 'Intra-Asian Trade'" (in Japanese) submitted to the "Asian Historical Statistics Project" of the Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, 1998.