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To What Extent Did Imperial Concerns Guide British Foreign Policy Between 1890- 1907?

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To What Extent Did Imperial Concerns Guide British Foreign Policy Between 1890- 1907? When answering this question it is important to note that the significance and value of this essay is great. This essay will help us to understand the climate and reasons to how the First World War broke out and also how politics, which were carried out at the beginning of the twentieth century, laid the foundations to the way in which foreign policy is carried out today. By outlining a few key terms needed for this essay, the task of answering this question will be less complicated. This question regards the issue of foreign policy; this is a set of policies employed by a country pertaining to international affairs. The issue of 'imperial concerns' which this essay will address, relates to the concerns a country has, corresponding to it empire or sovereign. By answering this essay question imperial concerns of the great powers in the world must be analysed, international conflict due to imperial motivation will be looked at the position of Britain and Germany in world affairs and their relationship, Anglo-German antagonism and their economic rivalry must also be studied to successfully answer this question. Between 1890- 1907 three key figures were at the forefront of international foreign policy pertaining to imperial concerns. The first of these was Lord Salisbury who dominated British politics and foreign policy during this period, as Michael Lynch stated, "...foreign policy in late Victorian Britain was dominated by the conservative leader Lord Salisbury. He made foreign affairs his speciality"; Salisbury also took a pragmatic approach concerning the empire again as Michael Lynch states along with Gladstone he "shared the view that Britain was a declining force in the world and that therefore it would be unwise for it to attempt an expansionist foreign policy." He also "tended to share Joseph Chamberlain's economic understanding of imperialism. ...read more.


(Derrick Murphy), by analysing the trade relationship between the two countries we will be able to determine how imperial concerns were affecting, Britain's 'economic foreign policy, with Germany. When describing the 'trade relationship' between these two countries it is apt to say, that both were heavily reliant on each other, in 1890 British imports from Germany totalled a 26 million pounds and British exports to Germany 19.2 million pounds, in the year 1905 the British imports from Germany had doubled to 53.8 million pounds and the British exports from Germany had increased by one and a half times to 29.7 million. Although the exports from Britain to Germany were not as dramatic as that from Germany to Britain; it can be recognised that Germany was heavily dependent on the British Empire for materials "Britain had remained the leading market for German exports throughout this entire period" (Paul Kennedy). Germanys percentage of world trade was growing fast; Britain's 'mature economy' had lost six percent of world trade from 1880 to 1913 where Germanys economy had grown by three percent. "Germany was able, by utilising steam, electrical and rail power, to achieve growth rates which were higher than those of a 'mature economy' like Britain's [...] Germany's industrial expansion was, in many respects, in the more advanced and qualitatively superior sectors of the economy" (Paul Kennedy). The 'trade rivalry' between the two countries was that a long list of particular industries and firms felt themselves in a struggle with their British or German counter parts, their were complaints on either side that each had an unfair advantage however a great number of these complaints were from Britain concentrating on the 'unfair' German Tariff system, in a report by the Tariff commission in sectors such as agricultural machinery trade within Germany from Britain 'Duties had gradually close the market' from heavy taxing from the Germans. Britain's policy, had till then been, naively, one of free trade however As Andrew Thompson comments "Just as one individual- Richard Cobden- ...read more.


The main causes of this entente were war and domestic tensions leaving Russia very venerable. The main provisions of this entente were: Persia was to be divided into three zones, a Russian zone adjacent to her frontier, a buffer zone and a British zone in the south- east covering the Indian Border. Russia and Britain both agreed to refrain from influence in both Afghanistan and Tibet; also agreeing to respect each other's spheres of influence. The British were willing to agree to the entente, which neutralised Russian ambitions in India- 'the Jewel of Britain's Imperial Crown' Conclusively British imperial concerns did affect their foreign policy between 1890- 1907. Firstly, in 1890 the 'African agreements' illustrated this fact greatly, not wanting to become involved in colonial disputes Britain initiated these agreements. Trade relations with Germany also spurned imperial concerns to affect foreign policy with the formation of Joseph Chamberlains Tariff Reform League. Colonial disputes and agreements with Germany also outwardly displayed how imperial concerns affected British foreign policies, with agreements such as the Portuguese Colonies agreement of 1898, concerns that the British empire would create economic and military problems for Britain, any potential conflicts and problems were solved fast. The series of agreements and ententes came in 1902- 1907 with a change in Foreign Secretary who was keen to initiate, and 'de-isolate' Britain from other countries, The benefits from these series of these ententes were great with the Anglo- Japanese alliance leading to an entente with both France and Russia, creating tight relations, which would become stronger during the first world war. These imperial concerns which affected foreign policy within Britain can be regarded as "preclusive imperialism- annexing territory, not because it was valuable economically, but merely to forestall a rival." (John Lowe) Britain realising that other countries were employing 'preclusive' imperialism, understood that rivalry could escalate into Europe, employing a defensive foreign policy, to preserve their empire and protect their interests. ...read more.

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