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British exports to Africa per decade 1699-1808

Between 1699 and 1808, the total value of British exports to Africa was over 43.08 million British pounds sterling. The primary purpose of these exports was for trade with African slavers, as part of the greater triangular trade network between Europe, Africa and the Americas. Simply put, triangular trade saw European merchants bring manufactured products (i.e. textiles, iron, weapons, etc.) to Africa, which they then traded for slaves who were transported to the Americas, where slave labor produced raw materials that were then transported back to Europe for manufacturing, and the cycle would repeat.

Exports to Africa fuel the slave trade

Britain was the largest transporter of slaves across the Atlantic in the 18th century, particularly as the century progressed. British exports to Africa generally remained around or below two million pounds each decade in the first half of the 18th century, however, exports grew exponentially from 1759 onwards, peaking at 10.75 million pounds between 1799 and 1808 (although there was a brief dip between the 1770s and 1780s, due to the disruption caused by the American War of Independence). The slave trade was abolished in the British Empire in 1807, at which point British exports to Africa decreased greatly.

Textiles and weapons

At almost thirty million pounds, the export of textiles made up over two thirds of all British exports to Africa between 1699 and 1808. In particular, re-exported cotton from Britain's colonies on the Indian subcontinent was the most valuable portion of textile exports to Africa, highlighting a significant Asian influence on the previously-mentioned triangular trade route (re-exported Indian cotton had a similar role in French exports to Africa in the late 1700s). A much smaller, but significant share of British exports was made up of iron and weapons, which facilitated the capture of future slaves on the African continent.

Value British exports to Africa in each decade between 1699 and 1808

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Release date

June 2018


Africa, United Kingdom

Survey time period

1699 to 1808

Supplementary notes

The total value of all exports was 43,081,410 British pounds sterling (GBP). The total values of each category, and their share of overall export value (in percentage) are as follows:
Textiles: 28,985,434 GBP (67.28 percent)
Iron: 2,665,998 GBP (6.19 percent)
Military stores: 2,256,358 GBP (5.24 percent)
Others: 9,173,620 GBP (21.29 percent)

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