Main economic conception of that time was mercantilism, which consisted of development of domestic trade along with active foreign trade balance. Encouragement of 'useful and necessary' (from the government point of view) kinds of production and trades was combined with the forbidding and limitation producing 'unnecessary' goods.
Development of industry was dictated by the needs of the war only and was of special Peter's concern. During the first quarter of the XVII c. about 200 manufactures appeared, on the contrary with 15-29 manufactures before the Peter's reign. The prior attention was paid to metallurgy with its center move to Ural. Iron-producing and copper-smelting factories provided Army and Fleet orders. Demidov's Neviansky and Tobolsky plants were founded, in St. Petersburg Sestroretsky plant (more than 600 workers) was producing weapons, anchors, nails.
From 1700 to 1725 the amount of cast-iron smelted increased from 150 to 800 poods a year. The Arsenal and The Admiralty dockyard (in Peter's life-time 59 large and over 200 smaller ships were built there) grew in the capital. In 1704 the first silver-smelting plant was built in Nerchinsk (Zabaikalye). In Moscow and in other central regions of Russia cloth mills, sail and linen manufactories, tanneries were appearing, they provided The Army with uniform, and the Fleet with sail-cloth. By 1725 there appeared 25 textile mills, rope-yards and powder-mills in the country. For the first time paper-mills, cement mills, sugar-refinery, and even wall-paper factory had been built in Russia.
The success of the Russian metallurgy in Peter's epoch could be proved by the following: instead of 35 thousand poods of iron imported from Sweden, by 1726 Russia was able to transport more than 55 thousand poods of iron for export, only through the Baltic ports. Since 1712 import of weapon from Europe had been forbidden, and by 1714 the number of iron and copper cannons accounted for several thousands. By the end of Peter's reign export of Russian goods twice exeeded import (4200 rubles and 2100 rubles). At the same time high customs (of 40% in foreign currency) reliably protected domestic market.
As the industrial production was growing, the feudal exploitation grew harder, and involuntary labour was widely used: serfs, bought (session) serfs, state serfs, who were given to the manufactury as constant sourse of workers. The Decree from 18 January 1721 and the subsequent decrees(such as the one from May 28, 1723) allowed the private manufacturers to buy the whole villages, so that all the villagers could work at the factory at any time.
The reforms also touched upon the sphere of small productions of goods, supported the development of crafts, and some farmers works (such as producing linen). In 1711 trade schools were established. According to the Decree from 1722 all the craftsmen with their elected Head were assigned to the certain shop in accordance with their specialization, where they became masters and apprentices. The total number of the craftsmen living in the cities and towns of Russia in 1720s accounted for 16 thousand, including 6,8 thousand craftsmen working in 146 Moscow shops. The establishment of the shop system illustrated the government protection to the development of crafts and their regulation.
During the reign of Peter I agriculture was developing slowly, in an extensive way. However, there were some attempts to reforms, too. According to The Decree from 1721, more modern equipment was to be used when collecting crops. New cultures of plants were cultivated - tobacco, grape, fruit trees, herbs, new breed types of cattle were brought.
In the field of foreign and domestic trade, thanks to the government monopoly of the supply and sell of the main goods (salt, flax, fur, lard, caviar, bread, wine, wax etc.) the exchequer was being filled considerably. The establishment the merchant's companies and extension of commerce with foreign countries were being encouraged. At the same time importance of the richest merchants of 'The Trade Hundred' was reducing. Moscow, Astrakhan, Novgorod, and the large fairs - Makarievskaya on the Volga river, Irbitskaya in the Siberia, Svinskaya in Ukraine - were the trade centers, besides, on the trade road crossings there were a number of smaller fairs. Peter's government paid much attention to development of the water ways - the main means of transport of that time. A number of canals - Volga-don, Vyshnevolotskoy, Ladozhsky canals - was being built, works on the Moscow-Volga Canal had been started.