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International Commercial Activities

During the 1550’s, Portuguese merchants expanded trade to the Chinese Mainland via Macao, transforming the city into the epicentre of Sino-Portuguese trade. Various new international markets - from China to Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Europe, and even South America and Africa - were exploited, making Macao the most important trading port in the Far East.

The 1580’s witnessed the prosperity of commercial activities in Macao. European commodities such as clocks and wool fabrics were novelties in the Chinese market. On the other hand, silks, tea and porcelain were shipped and exported far away from Macao to Southeast Asia and European countries.

Between the 1620’s and the 1640’s, Portuguese merchants gradually lost their trade privileges in China and Japan. Eventually, its trading relationship with Malaysia was also deprived by the Netherlands, and trade between Macao and Manila also terminated. Following the Opium Wars, Macao no longer served as an important foreign trading centre in China due to the rise of the five treaty ports and Hong Kong.