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

By P. T. Bauer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
EFFECTS OF THE IMMIGRATION POLICY ON MONOPOLY AND COMPETITION

In West Africa (as in many other countries) governmental policies have often had restrictive effects and have served to strengthen concentration in trade. Those who have framed and administered these measures have rarely deliberately intended to produce those results. Nevertheless, the consequences have not been less serious or far-reaching for having been largely unintended and unforeseen. The control of immigration is among the most important of official policies to which this conclusion applies. The immigration policy of the West African administrations is a principal factor shielding the existing firms from effective competition. Further, the immigration policy has important economic effects on the formation of capital, on the provision of employment opportunities, and on the general development of West Africa.


1. PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THE DISCUSSION

The purpose of the discussion should not be misunderstood. Although it is largely critical of the immigration policy of the last few decades, its concern is with description and analysis of this policy and not with recommendations for its revision, an issue which lies, of course, outside the scope of this study. In so far as a discussion has any definite implication for policy, it is the desirability of bringing into the open certain dilemmas (illustrated in this chapter) underlying the objectives of the current policy; and of bringing home to the local population certain results of a policy followed largely in accordance with the demands of a vocal minority.

Nor is it intended to suggest that either the problems of the control of immigration, or the policies actually pursued differ fundamentally from those often encountered in other countries, whether self-governing or dependent. Certain important features of the situation in West Africa are indeed unusual. The number of expatriates is extremely small, and the contribution to economic development by comparatively small numbers of additional immigrants might be considerable. The degree of concentration in trade is exceptionally high, and the competition offered to the existing firms by additional independent expatriate merchants might have important effects in the market situation. But the political and social resistance in West Africa to the admission of immigrants, and the possible complications created by their presence,

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