The 16th century Carrera del Pacífico: its sailor-merchants and their trade goods
Kristyl N. Obispado, Ph.D.

Obispado, Kristyl N., 2023. “The 16th century Carrera del Pacífico: its sailor-merchants and their trade goods.” Philippine Review of Economics (Online ISSN 2984-8156)60(2): 104-137.


This article focuses on the sailors who served during the initial years of the Carrera del Pacífico, one of the globalizing projects of the Spanish Monarchy. In particular, the paper aims to examine the sailors who took advantage of the Pacific trade circuits by actively participating in various income-generating activities created by the Carrera. Using the sailors’ economic endeavors, especially as sailor-merchants, as a lens can elucidate how early global trade was conducted and demonstrate the dynamics of the early Pacific trade. The paper argues that by seizing the opportunities presented by the Carrera, primarily by assuming the dual roles of sailors and merchants, these laborers helped consolidate the Spanish-Pacific region and reshape the consumption pattern of its local population. The sailors engaged in the transportation, sale, and purchase of global commodities during the early modern period, including textiles and chinaware, which catered to the demands of the broader consumer base in Spanish America. The sources draw data from the Royal Treasury of Acapulco registers during its first decade (1590-1600), where 1,574 sailors were identified. It belongs to Archivo General de Indias’ Contaduría (Account) records, which contain the duties of commodities entering and leaving the port of Acapulco.


Keywords: Pacific trade, sailor-merchants, early globalization, Philippine-Chinese good