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

By P. T. Bauer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
WARTIME ARRANGEMENTS IN THE WEST AFRICAN EXPORT TRADE AND THEIR RESULTS

1. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WARTIME CONTROLS IN THE EXPORT TRADE

There were three principal objectives of the wartime control over West African exports. The first was to deny supplies to the enemy and to secure them for the Allies, particularly the United Kingdom. The second objective was the prevention of a collapse of the local price of cocoa. The third principal objective was to increase exports of groundnuts and of oil palm produce after 1942. There were also three principal elements in the machinery of export control. The first was licensing of exports to direct these to specific destinations. The second was statutory monopoly in the handling of the principal exports. The third element was a system of quotas in the purchase of export produce. Licensing of exports to direct these to specific destinations was an obvious necessity. Neither this aim of policy nor its administration differed substantially from similar arrangements elsewhere, including the United Kingdom. Moreover, this aspect of the controls did not affect permanently the structure of the trade. Accordingly it will not be considered further in this study. On the other hand, the establishment of statutory monopoly in the export of agricultural produce, and the operation of a quota system in their purchase, differed greatly from the controls over similar commodities elsewhere in the British colonies. These arrangements, which do not appear to have been necessary for any of the declared objectives of the controls, have had far-reaching and lasting effects on the marketing of West African produce. For these reasons this chapter examines in some detail their wartime establishment and operation.


2. WARTIME ESTABLISHMENT OF STATUTORY EXPORT MONOPOLIES AND SOME OF ITS RESULTS

The wartime establishment of statutory export monopolies in West Africa has come to be taken so much for granted that the grounds for their establishment do not appear to have been examined. Yet it is clear that their introduction was not necessary.

Monopoly of export was obviously not required for the support of the local price of cocoa; an official guarantee to act as residual buyer at

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