This serves as the center for the county's efforts to develop domestic and international trade and various establishments.
Role of Merchant Traders in Coventry
While the production of materials and goods is vital for the success of the county, without the means to distribute supplies it will all go to waste. All areas of the county will need access to all of the resources produced by it, and development will be hampered if they are unavailable. Since the game will limit how many skills a character will be able to train to proficiency, characters will be specialized and so they will be heavily reliant on others for all of the various supplies they need. One person bartering their goods for other goods is highly inefficient and since there will be a universal currency at the start of the game, there will be a great need for those who buy and sell goods and services and create trade networks to move them to areas of the county with a demand for them. These merchants will fill in supply gaps that allow all areas of the county to stay fed, build settlements, and manufacture tools and goods uninterrupted in return for payment. This results in money also flowing all around the county to those who sell their products to merchants giving them the money to buy whatever they may need and reducing economic stagnation. One of the priorities of the Citadel's Lycaeum branch will be to develop sea-faring ships to allow for international trade.
Manufacturer Sellers vs Merchants
There will be many producers who want to sell what they make, be it through individual or guild shops. City marketplaces will allow many sellers, be they merchants or producers, to compete to provide whatever combination of quality, affordability, and quantity buyers could want. Where some sellers may be better able to sell a few items in bulk, others may focus on selling one or a few items of high quality that are more difficult to produce, and still others may sell a wide selection of related items. This competition of smaller local sellers with larger regional sellers is healthy for the economy and will be promoted by the county.
Merchants and Trade Networks
Merchants will be larger traders who focus on using their trade networks to buy items and sell them in other places in need. They will deal in larger quantities of goods which will allow them to negotiate lower prices with sellers in return for having access to selling their products in bulk to the merchant's network and being paid a lump sum. On the other side they can raise their prices to buyers who have an unmet demand for products or may similarly negotiate lower prices for those who buy in bulk from the merchant. The revenues merchants make from this all depend on the deals they are able to make and the resulting margins between the buying and selling, and the profits they make depend on how much of that money goes into maintaining their trade networks.
Establishing Trade Networks
Creating and maintaining a successful trade network will be a challenging task. One of the first decisions that must be made is what products to buy and sell. The supply and demand for various products will have to be carefully considered and the resources needed to run the trading will have to be worked out ahead of time. The formation of trade routes for critical resources will be key to the functioning of the county.
Important trade goods will include:
Foodstuffs: maintenance and growth of the population
Plant and Animal Materials: needed for specialized industries, fiber and leather products
Natural Materials: needed for construction, weapons and armor, and most manufacturing
Manufactured Goods: tools, specialized building fixtures, processed materials
Merchants will also need to make deals ahead of time with sellers to buy products, have plans to set up shops in the right areas to sell products at a worthwhile price, and buy means of transportation to move the goods. In addition they will need to hire personel to move and guard the merchandise and to work the shops. In some cases merchants may be able to contract with other groups to regularly provide a supply of goods. They will also face competition for marketshare in the markets they are selling in, and this could force them to have to reduce their prices to compete. It will be hard to say how competing merchants will deal with each other in the game and what sorts of deals or opposition they will make with each other.
Business Loans and Financing
Beyond all of the logistics of starting a trading company there will also need to be an upfront investment to get operations off the ground. For these enterprises as well as for establishment businesses like independent stores, inns, and taverns the county will consider offering business loans to those that have solid business plans and deals. Many of these businesses will provide great benefit to the county as well as the business owners, and so use of county funds in this manner will benefit everyone with needed products made available and inns and taverns to stay at, eat, and regain their strength. Mayors and barons may also choose to give out or request loans for more local businesses as well. Those who are starting businesses will also have access to a business forum section on the website and a Chamber of Commerce channel on the discord to help with pulling together the people and resources needed to start a venture, and to provide them with a place to interact with the Count and ministers when needed.
Banking is a sort of money market except that people give the money for safekeeping and the bank makes money from interest they collect on loans they make using the money that has been stockpiled. Game mechanics on how banking will work are still uncertain, but it may be that they are left to players to put together completely on their own. In this case it would be upto the bankers to create and protect places where money is held, conduct transactions, and create loan contracts. It is also still uncertain if Aranor will create a bank or bank network for the kingdom. Banks could serve as an alternate way to provide loans to those who want to start businesses or purchase land, but banks will have a profit motive where the county is looking to promote development.
Once sea-faring ships are developed, ideal international trade will be to import goods that the county has a shortage of and export goods that the county has a surplus of. In this case the county has a back up market for needed goods, but will likely have to pay more for them, and can sell excess goods to other parts of the world that need them without letting them go to waste or slashing prices. This system should function in this way as long as domestic goods remain less expensive to produce and trade than imported goods. There will be added costs, such as port fees, paying ships to haul freight, and so on, that should act to keep imported goods more expensive. This will also give domestic merchants an incentive to keep their prices lower than imports.
However, if other parts of the world create ways to produce and trade goods for much lower prices than domestic products, and in particular if they are engaging in price manipulation in an active attempt to hurt domestic industries, then it may be necessary for the county to make an intervention in the international trade market. This could take the form of tariffs, but this would depend on how much of a threat to domestic industries the trade prices represented. The county would prefer to investigate the situation and apply what advancements other parts of the world were making to its own industries to make them more competitive rather than regulating international trade.
Tolls for use of trade infrastructure may be collected. The objective is to have funds to upkeep infrastructure and operate institutions vital to maintaining an environment condusive to trade and commerce.
Building Merchant Ships
To engage in international trade, merchant ships and fleets will need to be constructed. Naval ships built by the county will also be needed to deter piracy and defend trade waters and ships. The county will be planning to have shipyards that will allow for private businesses to commision trade ships. It will also look into the development of port defenses to defend ports and ships from attack while at dock. If the game has ships carry names, the county may register these names to keep track of the status of ships. If the game has a flag system, the county will develop flags to identify ships with.
The county is also interested in hosting events such as craft fairs, tournaments, festivals, etc. that will bring people to the area to see the county and give a boost to local businesses while they are here. The county will be interested in employing event planners to set up these events.