Historical Social Research

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Leos Müller, Swedish Shipping in Southern Europe and Peace Treaties with North African States: An Economic Security Perspective [Abstract]

In the late eighteenth century, Swedish ships frequently sailed in the Western Mediterranean. They could be found in Marseilles, Livorno, Genoa, Alicante, Sicily, Sardinia, and North Africa, as well as in Cadiz and Lisbon outside the Mediterranean. Indeed, the Mediterranean was an area of great importance for Swedish shipping. How was it possible that Sweden – a small country in northern periphery of Europe – could play such a prominent role in carrying trade in Southern Europe? There are a number of plausible explanations but an especially significant factor was the fact that Sweden had peace treaties with North African states. The treaties improved the security of Swedish-flagged vessels, reducing their protection and operation costs, insurance premiums, etc. It was economically reasonable for foreigners to employ Swedish carriers. The topic of this essay is this connection between the establishment of peace relations between Sweden and North African states and the success of the Swedish carrying business in Southern Europe. The issue is approached from the protection-cost perspective (institutional economics) and related to the different concepts of security: state security, economic security and in a certain sense also human security.