Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Belgium’s Expansionist History between 1870 and 1930: Imperialism and the Globalisation of Belgian Business

Abbeloos, Jan-Frederik (2008): Belgium’s Expansionist History between 1870 and 1930: Imperialism and the Globalisation of Belgian Business.

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Abstract

This chapter considers if and how the political action of imperialism and the globalisation of business influenced each other in Belgium between 1870 and 1930. In addition to the role that Belgian King Leopold II played in the territorial partition of Africa and the opening up of China, the period sees a growing amount of capital and industrial know-how from Belgium being invested in markets outside Europe. Before World War I, the globalisation of Belgian business and Belgian imperialism operated relatively independently of each other, leaving the financing of the imperial project open to other international investors while strong political support for the globalisation of Belgian business was absent in this small, neutral and open country. Only after the Belgian state took over Leopold’s Congo Free State in 1908 and World War I infused colonial (economic) policy with a stronger patriotic spirit, did Belgian foreign investments start to concentrate on the Congo. From the 1920s on, Belgian business fully seized the opportunities that imperialism had created earlier.

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