8 Maritime Asia and the Industrial Revolution
(1) The Influx of Indian Cotton
The Calico Prohibition Laws
Britain responded to the influx of Indian cotton with two laws prohibiting calico. In 1700, the British parliament passed the first law banning the import of calico. (Muslin and plain calico were exempted from this ban, and imports of cotton thread and fustian thread were permitted). The preamble to the law justified it as follows:
_If the East India trade continues, it will drain the nation_s coffers and necessitate the melting down of coins. The resulting reduction of labor will inevitably cause grave damage to the country and force most of its manufacturing industries to seek labor overseas._ However, the law did not have any effect and, two decades later in 1720, a stricter calico prohibition law was passed. This law expressly stated its aim of maintaining and promoting the British woolen and silk fabric industry, prohibiting the wearing of clothing made of calico and the use of calico in clothing, interior decoration and household effects. (As in the first law, this ban did not apply to muslin.) It is important to note here that both of these laws permitted the import of calico for re-export. These two calico prohibition laws had a considerable impact on the development of the British cotton industry both domestically and overseas.
Imitation of Indian Cotton and the Development of the Cotton Printing Industry
Let us first examine the domestic impact of the calico ban. Since the use of calico was prohibited at a time when a demand structure already existed for Indian cotton for clothes, interior decoration and household effects, the ban stimulated the manufacture of imitation goods. The most effect of this was the development of the cotton printing industry from attempts to imitate Indian cotton by applying Indian color-printing techniques to plain calico imported from India as well as to linen and fustian. The textile printing industry developed out of European chemical techniques, arising almost simultaneously in France, the Netherlands and Britain, and subsequently in Switzerland and Germany. Of the various attempts to imitate Indian cotton, it was the most successful thanks to rapid advances in printing techniques. By 1744, the quality of printing was not inferior to Indian chintz, although it still did not reach the level of printed muslin. The number of _proto-factories__printing factories that were forerunners of factory manufacturing_increased rapidly. By the first half of the 1760s, there were at least 28 such factories in Britain, 42 in France, 33 in Switzerland, and 18 in Spain. By the middle of the 1780s, there were 111 factories in Britain, more than 115 in France, and 49 in Switzerland. The total length of printed calico produced in France in 1785 was 16 million meters, and of the million or so rolls of cotton cloth produced in Britain in 1792, more than 60% were processed at printing factories.
It is important to stress that one of the key factors in the rapid development of the calico printing industry was the fact that a substantial market had already been created by Indian goods. Since a huge demand already existed, the task facing the printing industry was not the creation of new demand but the development of products of the same quality as eastern fabrics at retail prices that the middle and lower classes could afford. The first step in the rise of the printing industry was the development of products that could replace imported Indian calico.
Development of the Cotton Market in the Pan-Atlantic Region
Let us now turn to the external influence of the calico prohibition laws. By stimulating re-exports, the laws led to the development of the cotton market in the pan-Atlantic region. Among the European countries, the largest importer of Indian cotton was the British East India Company based in India, followed by the Dutch East India Company.