West African Trade: A Study of Competition, Oligopoly and Monopoly in a Changing Economy

By P. T. Bauer | Go to book overview
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PREFACE TO THE 1963 REISSUE

The reissue of a book long out of print is always gratifying to an author, particularly when, as in this instance, it represents several years of work in his special field of study.

I think that the shortcomings which a revision would need to rectify are those of omission rather than of commission. The major subjects treated represent either examination of dominant features of the West African economies and analysis of their implications, or description and discussion of topics or policies of some general interest. This applies, for instance, to the rapid progress of' the West African economies over the last half-century; the multiplicity of traders and the role and productivity of trade; the operation of restrictive tendencies in emerging economies; the high degree of concentration in the private sector of external trade; the factors influencing new entry and the prospects of entrants; the operation of private market sharing agreements, and the relation between these and official controls; the effect of buying competition on the terms of trade of producers; the main features of internal trade; the problems of price and income stabilization; the operation of official export monopolies; the special problems of official controls in underdeveloped countries; and the implications of the immigration policy.

These topics were chosen because they seemed of more than ephemeral significance in West Africa, or because they raised issues of some general interest, or because they reflected the operation of forces at work elsewhere also and thrown into unusually clear relief in West Africa. The statistics presented are all designed to illustrate one or other of these topics, and in this sense are still relevant. I hope, therefore, though this is necessarily only an expression of hope, that much of the book, including the statistics, is not out of date.

The familiar problem of the need for revision arises acutely because of the far reaching political and social changes in West Africa, which were already apparent when the book was completed about ten years ago, as is recognized in its sub-title. If I were to re-write this book now, or if I had the opportunity to revise it extensively, I would have to discuss at length certain important developments which have taken place in West Africa during the last decade, and which are relevant to the trading situation and methods there. Perhaps the most important of these are the expansion of the market; the development of local manufacturing activity; the increase in the numbers of officially sponsored or controlled industrial and trading organizations; and the decision of some of the major expatriate merchant firms to

-xvii-

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