How Trade Affects the Average Consumer: Why You Don’t See ‘Made in Ghana’ Products

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Hey, welcome back from the Desk of The Digital Diplomat! We’re talking about all things digital technology, diplomacy, and  ecommerce. I think an important part of understanding the economy and today’s current trade system is also understanding how trade has affected history, so let’s get to it! We know that without trade, we wouldn’t have exploration. For you to understand the effect trade had on history, you have to look at the Silk Road. Silk was a unique product from China, and research tells us that Chinese traders exchanged silk for precious metals, glass, wool, spices and cloth with traders from all over the world, who had to pass through India, Arabia, and Africa as part of their journey. Most books within the current education system state that Christopher Columbus was trying to find a quicker, easier route to China by sea in order to reach the silk and spices of the Far East. Instead, he ended up in the West Indies. Important note: There’s a saying in Ghana, related to the symbol of a bird that we call Sankofa. The bird is looking back but walking forwards, and it’s head is facing backwards. The symbol simply means that you can go forward without knowing where you’ve come from. In order for me to go forward like the Sankofa bird teaches us, I had to understand the history, and though there are some hard-hitting truths, knowledge is power if you wish to succeed. First off, there were many other explorers from Africa way before Christopher Columbus, who traveled through the trade routes and bartered for goods and services. While most educational books taught in school today don’t accurately account for the trade routes and exploration founded by African explorers, we know in African history that they were the ones to open trade relations with neighboring countries. Once other countries began exploring more lands that were previously unknown to them, they started to set up colonies, which were settlements ruled by the mother country. Along with the colonies came cash crops and the African slave trade, which meant that these traders were now bringing African people to work as slaves. In fact, the journey of the slave ships became known as the Middle Passage, which had an extremely dark history because many Africans died during the journey. In this way, the Triangular Trade was born, wherein the three main destination points – Africa, Europe, and the Americas – formed a triangle as they did business with one another for centuries. Europe would buy goods that were cultivated from the Americas natural resources, like sugar, tobacco, and cotton. Africans would buy manufactured goods from the Europeans, such as guns, metal, and cookware in exchange for laborers, who were sent to the Americas as slaves. The Triangular Trade is a prime example of how the barter system works in conjunction with what different parties might value to facilitate exchanges of products and services. Truthfully, this particular point of exploration within history is international trade at its finest. Though this system was not always fair, it is nevertheless based on the choices of people and what they valued at the time within that situation. In today’s society, as a result of international trade, stores that you and I shop at can offer different products from all around the world. Chances are a lot of these goods are imported from different countries. If you look at the tag on the back of your clothes, you will see: “Made in Bali,” “Made in China,” or “Made in Columbia.” Growing up, I really didn’t think much of it. Anytime I needed clothes Made in Ghana, I would get it made and then bring it over to America. I never thought to myself, “Why is it not common for me to wear ‘Made in Ghana’ products? Like, why can’t I just as easily go to the marketplace or the store, and buy “Made in Ghana” products?” As I grew up and started learning business and international trade, I started to realize that while I can easily wear “Made in China” or “Made in Indonesian” products, it’s just not as easy for me to go and buy “Made in Ghana” products. The discouraging part wasn’t even the fact that the clothing had to be Afrocentric, or with African-printed material – it just wasn’t common. These questions prompted me to do more research, and I searched for answers to these questions: What is it, then, that makes some products more available than others? What is it about the economy? What is it about trade? I ended up looking at the history of trade, which I am telling you about today so that you can make more business savvy decisions, as well as understand the ethical ramifications that comes along when dealing with human wants, needs, and even greed. I hope my sharing has caused you to inquire a bit more about how you obtain the products and services that you are currently using day-to-day. I teach you how to sell your products or services around the world and we do it through our services at the VGC group, which is our platform for creating global entrepreneurs. And if you’re interested in purchasing or buying “made in Africa” products, we make that available to you because we’re committed to that being a part of the international trade that is taking place in our economy. And you could do that on Alright, let’s go global.
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