The Commission Houses and the Import-Export Trade
The import-export trade was the basis of Britain’s commercial intercourse with Chile. Britain was, by a considerable margin, the republic’s largest trading partner, a position it held throughout the period 1851–1886. Britain remained the principal destination of Chile’s exports for two reasons: domestic demand, and the success of the commission houses in obtaining the consignment of the products, whatever their ultimate destination. The leaders of the business were the commission houses, one of the most important and long lived of which was founded in 1851. Though limited liability companies were established in Chile during the period none of the British commission houses adopted the new form of organization. Similar organizational practices reflected the similar businesses of the commission houses. Generally, large producers consigned their produce through commission houses while small ones, who lacked the credit facilities available to their larger colleagues, often sold their ores as they were produced to any available buyer.