Daily Archives: December 27, 2014

Sixty Five Years Ago Today

The legacy of the Dutch East India Company, which was the first multinational corporation in the world, fades into obscurity when the Netherlands officially recognizes Indonesian independence and brings to an end the existence of the Dutch East Indies.

On March 30, 1602, the Dutch East India Company, which was also the first company to issue stock, was established when the States General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out trade activities in Asia. The largest of the European companies engaged in Asian trade, it had a fleet of 4,785 ships, which put the British East India Company a distant second at a mere 2,690 ships.

It’s monopoly status with quasi-governmental powers enabled Dutch East India Company to enjoy huge profits for almost two centuries until it want bankrupt as a result of corruption and was formally dissolved in 1800 and its operations taken over by the government, which created the Dutch East Indies out of the territories that were controlled by the Dutch East India Company. This colony continued to be one of the most prosperous of the European colonies and enabled the Netherlands to gain and retain global prominence in the spice trade for almost 150 years, until World War II when Japan’s occupation dismantled much of the colonial state and economy.

Following the Japanese surrender, the Indonesian nationalists declared independence and fought to secure it during the subsequent Indonesian National Revolution. A few years later, the Netherlands formally recognized Indonesian sovereignty at the 1949 Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference and the legacy of the Dutch East India Company, which led global trade for almost two centuries, like all good things, came to an end.