By Benjamin S. Orlove
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Extra resources for Alpacas, Sheep, and Men. The Wool Export Economy and Regional Society in Southern Peru
Britain was the principal foreign market for all Peruvian wools until World War II (Ross 1912). Britain's general domination of the world wool market and its early lead in the development of a textile industry described in Chapter 2 were reinforced by its position as a leader in the foreign trade of the west coast of South America. Throughout the nineteenth century, the major sources of foreign credit, the trading companies involved in the import-export business, and shipping lines were primarily in British hands.
The demand was restricted to a small number of manufacturers who specialized in it, and the number of firms that supplied this market—the largely Britishbased import-export houses in a few Peruvian cities—was likewise small. The competition was hence less extensive than for sheep wool. Sigsworth refers to the collusive agreements among the three major Yorkshire manufacturers of alpaca textiles and their successful efforts to prevent the establishment of sales of alpaca wool by auction. His description appears to have applied through the 1930s: the alpaca trade was quite distinct from the [sheep] wool trade in the nature of the material, the conditions of supply, organization of the market and, above all, in the nature in the demand for the commodity, which was characterized by a high degree of imperfect competition .
Earlier reports mention other non-British traders. Tristan, describing Arequipa in the mid-1830s, mentions one French import-export firm and two French shopkeepers (Tristan 1971: 256-258). Hill, who visited the city a little over 20 years later, states "the commerce of the city is considerable, and is chiefly carried on by foreign merchants, the greater part of whom are English" (Hill 1860: 94) and mentioned German merchants there (p. 112). It is likely however, that the English merchants were the only ones to engage in the wool trade.
Alpacas, Sheep, and Men. The Wool Export Economy and Regional Society in Southern Peru by Benjamin S. Orlove