The Age of Illusion? The Department of Overseas Trade Between the Two World Wars: Three Case Studies
The exigencies of the First World War accelerated the breakdown of traditional barriers between politics and trade all over the world, a process to which the United Kingdom had perhaps the most extensive exposure. Although commercial relations had been closely connected with foreign relations in the imperial age of mercantilism, ‘in the century following the birth of liberalism, they were viewed, at the Foreign Office and in business circles, as an internal affair of the commercial community […] which were to be divorced as much as possible from politics’.1 However, towards the end of the Great War it had become evident that the early restoration of Britain’s export trade would be a matter of vital importance to the country. A far greater measure of official assistance for UK exporters would be required.
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