@Old Crusty the fact that your nation/clan cannot cooperate does not mean you need to force a certain game mechanic onto others that can.
I remember the starting days with WO and BLANC, together we sailed, with about 95% of all member participation, 1st rate pb ships from leewards to bermuda. Quite a long sail.
point is- you so happened to start off in a highly disorganized nation, and that's what your experiencing. learn from it, and if you desire, switch nations.
As for trade agreements, France collectively decided to allow dutch traders into capital waters unharmed and vice versa. Once upon a time as a Brit, I would help guide dutch traders safely into KPR...It can be done easily. You don't need any sort of game mechanic for this things, just a TS or Discord.
As Sir Traitor The RedDuke emphasizes - cooperation! and I'm sure even in those days it was a realistic factor in supremacy.