Why Didn't colonial Indonesia have a competitive cotton textile industry?

Pierre Van Der Eng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract This paper quantifies the consumption and production of cotton textiles at different stages of processing in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial era (1820-1941). It discusses the main factors that impeded the development of an internationally competitive cotton textile industry, and concludes that production in the industry increased significantly in Java during 1820-71, and again during 1874-1914 and 1934-41. However, most activity involved finishing of imported cotton cloth to suit local preferences. Spinning and weaving increased only marginally, as domestic production was precluded by the high-labour intensity of small-scale production, marginal local raw cotton production, and competitive international markets for yarn and cloth. Unfavourable and fluctuating real exchange rates discouraged investment in modern spinning and weaving ventures until trade protection and technological change in small-scale weaving caused rapid growth of domestic production after 1934.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1054
Number of pages36
JournalModern Asian Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


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