Import or export motivated trade

The following quote about trade is from an essay on economics at the time of Odysseus in archaic Greece. It is interesting to note that at that time trade was motivated by a need for imports whereas to us it is based on the need to export in order to maintain or create jobs.

Here in British Columbia where a lot of our economy has been based on forestry, mining and fishing, we might be better off if we had taken the first approach and looked for other ways for out people to have a comfortable standard of living.

Odyssean trade differed from the various forms of gift-exchange in that the exchange of goods was the end itself. In trade things changed hands because each needed what the other had, and not, or only incidentally, to compensate for a service, seal an alliance, or support a friendship. A need for some specific object was the ground for a transaction; if it could be satisfied by other means trade was altogether unnecessary. Hence, modern parlance, imports alone motivated trade, never exports. There was never a need to export as such, only the necessity of having the proper goods for the counter-gift when an import was unavoidable.

(The quote of from M.I. Finley, The World of Odysseus, Chaper 3 , reprinted in Tribal and Peasant Economies, Readings in Economic Anthropology, edited by George Dalton and published in 1967, page 411.)


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