Armenian merchants controlled the lucrative Safavid export trade during the sixteenth Century. (create link to how page)
They used overland routes to Syria, the Mediterranean, and Venice; Bursa, to Istanbul, the Crimea, Poland- Lithuania, Prague and then to Amsterdam.
The Armenians also promoted silk trading partnerships as royal emissaries to European courts. For example, Shah Abbas sent Iranian and Armenian emissaries with silk samples to the courts of Venice, Tuscany and Spain between 1600-1617 in order to attract silk orders.
The Armenians were not the only group involved in commercial and financial transactions. Jews were involved in the long distance commodity trade and acted as bankers. Muslims played a crucial role in the transportation business and provided credit to foreign merchants operating in Iran.
The Venetians, English and French were involved in the silk trade as well. Evidence suggest that the Venetians had a dominant position over the Levant trade in the Sixteenth century; but that position was contested during the next century. The most lucrative export trade was to Mughal India.
The Armenian dominance was challenged by new maritime trading companies: the British East India Company in 1617, and the Dutch East India Company in 1623. In 1628 the Dutch bought more than half of the total raw silk export, followed by the English
Unlike their medieval predecessors who operated as individual merchants or envoys cum traders from maritime republics like Venice, or city states like Genoa, traders started to serve as commission agents or employees of powerful companies that even traded in stock markets. In that way, they were able to rise capital and spread risk and benefits. Companies become thus a matter of national interest. The trading companies in many ways derived legitimacy and power from the states that supported them.
Eventually it will be the state (e.g. British Empire) who will be trading and the Safavid state who will promote exports.
During the Seventeenth century, the British East India company set up textile companies in Iran.
Trading is facilitated with the advent of financial instruments. The older system of letters of credit was now supported by an evolving banking system.
Trade area of the VOC around 1700 (Dutch East India Company)
Source: Wikipedia File:VOC Octrooigebied 1.jpg
Sources and further reading
The Volume of Iranian Raw Silk Exports in the Safavid Period
Herzig, Edmund M.. Iranian Studies, Vol. 25, No ½. The Carpets and Textiles of Iran: New Perspectives in Research (1992), pp. 61-79. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. On behalf of International Society of Iranian Studies
Stable URL: http:/www.jstor.org/stable/4310787
Symbols of Power: Luxury Textiles from Islamic Lands, 7th -21st Century
Mackie, Louise. New Haven: Yale, 2015.
The politics of trade in Safavid Iran : silk for silver, 1600-1730
Matthee, Rudolph P. Publication: Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Merchants in Safavid Iran: Participants and Perceptions
Matthee, Rudi. Source: Journal of Early Modern History, Volume 4, Issue 3, pages 233 – 268 Publication Year : 2000. DOI: 10.1163/157006500X00015. ISSN: 1385-3783 E-ISSN: 1570-0658