TRADE ORGANIZATION. The province of this article is defined by the limits of "trade" in the strict sense of exchange of commodities on a commercial scale and excludes the organiza tion of production as well as that of the more special developments or concomitants of commerce such as banking, insurance and transport, and finally that of the final retail distribution. The unit in this restricted field which may properly be called "commerce" is the merchant, the man who buys and sells but neither produces nor consumes commodities; he does produce values. An essen tial element, even in early stages of civilization, he figures in the 14th century as an individual among the company of Chaucer's "wel nyne and twenty" pilgrims. The corresponding group unit of his class, the chamber of commerce, had not arisen in the Brit ish isles when Adam Smith in the 18th century observed and demonstrated the essential nature of the evolution which had taken place in industry through the already substantially advanced division of labour. This was due partly to the inherent "indi vidual" nature of the simple process of commerce and partly to the national independence of character.
In France, as is related in more detail later, a more centralizing Government had created organizations of this name "chambres de commerce" which were incorporated into the administrative system of the country and given an official status and functions such as the control or management of public commercial institu tions, including inland waterways and port and harbour works the construction of which is usually financed by the chambers of commerce either wholly or jointly with the State or other author ity. The relatively high position of French chambers of Commerce
in the administrative sphere is further illustrated by the fact that during the war of 1914-18 they in common with municipalities were allowed even to issue paper money and tokens for small change, a function which was in fact exercised by practically all these bodies and so extensively that by 1919 their notes formed the chief currency for small change in France. These powers were terminated by the Stabilization Law of 1928.
In the British isles, on the other hand, chambers of commerce were, and remain, voluntary associations of a somewhat loose tex ture, exercising very little, if any, compulsion upon their mem bers, and endowed with few definite functions in relation to the comparatively light administrative framework within which trade has to be conducted.