Trade and Payments in Western Europe: A Study in Economic Cooperation, 1947-51

By William Diebold Jr. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER EIGHT
THE RECORD OF COOPERATION IN PAYMENTS

THERE is little point in debating the "success" or "failure" of the payments agreements. Each produced certain fairly definite, if limited, benefits and probably had some good indirect effects as well. Each failed in some ways to work as had been planned. Experts recognized most of the limitations from the beginning, but the excitement surrounding some of the negotiations and the celebrations attending agreement magnified the expectations of many people.

Trade among the OEEC countries increased over 40 percent between the fall of 1947, when the first multilateral payments agreement came into effect, and the summer of 1950, when the EPU was signed. Member governments, consequently, were able to relax their exchange restrictions, and most intra-European deficits and surpluses became easier to manage. The payments agreements were of some help in bringing about this improvement but by no calculation could they be reckoned the major factor. Indeed, the rapid changes in intra-European trade and finance had the effect of disengaging part of the machinery of the payments agreements; large parts of the drawing rights originally granted went unused and the second agreement's major novelty, the transferability of drawing rights, was not severely tested. The EPU's great contribution was to promote "the restoration of a multilateral--even if controlled--system of trade and payments."1 The EPU and the related measures for the liberalization of trade and invisibles brought about removal of

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1
Robert Triffin, "International Developments in the Intra-European Monetary System,"; cited, 56.

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