Trade war

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The trade war is literally the interruption of trade routes by military means in order to weaken an opponent economically . In a figurative sense, the term is also used today for an escalated trade dispute between states that is only conducted through economic means .


Violent trade wars can take the form of disruptions to land , sea and / or air trade routes , e.g. B. by violent land blockades in land warfare , sea ​​blockades in sea ​​warfare or air blockades in air warfare . This either weakens the global economy in that profits can no longer be made from exported goods and / or the import of goods is prevented. This then creates a shortage that weakens the domestic economy and, as a result, military capabilities. Selective blockades can also be made only for certain strategically important goods. However, the goal can also be to bring the goods intended for the enemy into one's own possession in order to strengthen one's own strength materially if, for example, merchant ships with contraband are raised as a prize .

A military trade war increases the risk of default for trading partners, which is usually associated with an increase in the price of the goods and can possibly deter trading partners entirely. In order to avert possible financial losses, there are " force majeure clauses " in contract law in the context of force majeure , which enable mutual withdrawal .

Today, the term is often used exaggeratedly for a trade dispute that is only fought with economic means , in which repressive foreign trade instruments or trade barriers are used.


Sinking of an English merchant cruiser by a German submarine (painting by Willy Stöwer , 1915)
Air blockage. A German naval airship checks a Danish steamer, presumably in the North Sea. Drawing by Willy Stöwer 1915
  • On June 24, 1258, a real trade war broke out off Acre for supremacy in the eastern Mediterranean , instigated by the economic centers of Pisa , Genoa , Venice and Marseille in the Adriatic , with Genoa alone losing half of its 48 warships and 1,700 men. In Acre there was a comparatively small Venetian trading quarter, it offered Venetian merchants and their goods space. An agreement on separate trading venues only ended this trade war in January 1261. In August 1267 the Genoese blocked Acre again, but were routed by the Venetians under their doge Lorenzo Tiepolo . In 1372 another trade war broke out between Venice and Genoa, a campaign of revenge that lasted until 1373.
  • In July 1759, the Prussian auxiliary warship "Prinz Ferdinand" began the trade war in the Mediterranean by privateer and brought a total of 14 ships by his return in March 1760 after Frederick II had banned this privateer by order.
  • The continental blockade ( French blocus continental ) decreed by Napoléon Bonaparte in Berlin in November 1806 was considered an economic blockade over the British Isles , which remained in force until March 1813 and was also enforced by military forces. It was supposed to bring Great Britain to its knees with the means of economic war. In addition, this measure was intended to protect the French economy against European and transatlantic competition. The continental barrier was preceded by the English blockade over the Weser and Elbe in the years 1803 to 1805, whereby the Hanseatic cities were significantly affected due to the decreasing shipping traffic.
  • Between 1815 and 1819, the Hudson's Bay Company and rival North West Company fought an armed trade war for control of the Red River Colony and supremacy in the fur trade, the Pemmican War .
  • In February 1915, the trade war with submarines began in the North Sea as a countermeasure against the British blockade, which led to Germany's economic constriction. From April 1915 to January 1917 the submarine trade war was also waged in the Baltic Sea .
  • From August 1940 there was a trade war in the North Atlantic . This last great trade war at sea took place during the Atlantic Battle of the Second World War , when England cut off Germany from supplies by sea with a naval blockade and Germany tried to wrestle England economically by sinking cargo ships on a large scale, especially with submarines . The bill that was frequently drawn up on the German side, as it was in the First World War , that the sea blockade would be successful if more shipping space ( tonnage ) was sunk than could be built in shipyards at the same time, also led to the occasional term tonnage war .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Detlef Wienecke-Janz (Ed.), The Great Chronicle World History: Bloom and Autumn of the Middle Ages 1204-1492 , 2008, p. 98
  2. ^ Albert Röhr, Handbuch der deutschen Marinegeschichte , 1963, p. 29
  3. Ursula M. Becker, Coffee Concentration , 2002, p. 71
  4. ^ Albert Röhr, Handbuch der deutschen Marinegeschichte , 1963, p. 138
  5. Wolfgang Meyer, U-SEEWOLF, 280 Seetage auf U-509 , 2015, p. 70