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Economic benefits from colonial assets : the case of the Netherlands and Indonesia 1870-1958

  • Eng, Pierre van der

    (Groningen University)

This paper explores the question whether and to what extent the economic relations between the Netherlands and its former colony Indonesia could be crucial to explaining `metropolitan' economic development and `peripheral' underdevelopment. It first surveys the literature on economic explanations for imperialism and the historiography involving Netherlands-Indonesia relations. The paper then generalises the broad economic importance to the Dutch economy of having Indonesia as a colony. The paper argues that the economic relevance shifted from trade to financial relations since ca.1900. Ready access to the Dutch capital market is likely to have advantaged economic development in Indonesia, albeit at the price of a shift in company ownership and a continuous transfer of dividend and interest payments to the Netherlands. The Dutch economy benefited from the relations with Indonesia, but was not particularly dependent on this relationship. This is demonstrated by the fact that after the decolonisation of Indonesia the economic ties between the two countries were severed during the 1950s. The Dutch economy entered a period of rapid growth, while the loss of ready access to the Dutch capital market contributed to economic stagnation in Indonesia.

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Paper provided by Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen in its series GGDC Research Memorandum with number 199839.

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Date of creation: 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dgr:rugggd:199839
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