The Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) was founded in 1602. On 20 March of that year, the States General issued a concession granting the new company the monopoly on shipping and trade in the territory to the east of the Cape of Good Hope and to the west of the Strait of Magellan. The company was also allowed to wage wars and conclude treaties with Asianrulers. Furthermore, the VOC was authorized to build forts, bastions and trading posts, and to enlist soldiers.
The VOC’s trading activities were extremely varied. The company obtained, for instance, the monopoly on the trade in fine spices. The VOC also dealt in textiles. Another major activity was the export of Asian products to the European market.