Trade was vital to Ancient Rome. The empire cost a vast sum of money to run and trade brought in much of that money. The population of the city of Rome was one million and such a vast population required all manner of things brought back via trade.
The Roman Empire was criss-crossed with trade routes. There were sea routes that covered the Mediterranean and Black Seas and numerous land routes using the roads built by the Romans. Trade and moving the Roman Army around were the two principle reasons for building roads.
The Romans did what they could to make sea journeys safe – lighthouses were built as were safe harbours and docks. The Roman Navy did what it could to make the Mediterranean Sea safe from pirates.
The Romans made trade as easy as possible. There was only one currency used and there were no complicating customs dues. Trade was also encouraged by many years of peace within the Empire. Trade was vital to the success of the Empire. When the Empire collapsed, trade throughout the lands that had once made up the Roman Empire, also collapsed. The Mediterranean Sea became a dangerous place for merchants as there were no powers to control the activities of pirates who marauded as far north as the English Channel.
What was acquired from where?
The Romans imported a whole variety of materials: beef, corn, glassware, iron, lead, leather, marble, olive oil, perfumes, purple dye, silk, silver, spices, timber, tin and wine. The main trading partners were in Spain, France, the Middle East and North Africa.