Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. IX.: Of the Prohibition of Commerce. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. IX.: Of the Prohibition of Commerce. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
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Of the Prohibition of Commerce.
IT is a true maxim, that one nation should never exclude another from trading with it, except for very great reasons. The Japanese trade only with two nations, the Chinese and the Dutch. The * Chinese gain a thousand per cent. upon sugars, and sometimes as much by the goods they take in exchange. The Dutch make nearly the same profits. Every nation that acts upon Japanese principles must necessarily be deceived; for it is competition which sets a just value on merchandises, and establishes the relation between them.
Much less ought a state to lay itself under an obligation of selling its manufactures only to a single nation, under a pretence of their taking all at a certain price. The Poles, in this manner, dispose of their corn to the city of Dantzic; and several Indian princes have made a like contract for their spices with the Dutch† . These argreements are proper only for a poor nation, whose inhabitants are satisfied to forego the hopes of enriching themselves provided they can be secure of a certain subsistence; or for nations, whose slavery consists either in renouncing the use of those things which nature has given them, or in being obliged to submit to a disadvantageous commerce.
[* ]Du Halde, vol. 2. p. 70.
[† ]This was first established by the Portuguese. Fr. Pirard’s voyages, chap. 15. part 2.