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

By William Diebold Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
THE RECORD OF COOPERATION IN TRADE

UNTIL the EPU was created, the OEEC's efforts at freeing intra-European payments took the form of a series of arrangements dealing primarily with immediate problems and incapable of providing a lasting basis for the settlement of current debts. OEEC's measures to remove intra-European trade barriers were of a rather different sort. They have taken the form of progressive steps to eliminate quotas but there is as yet no comprehensive trade regime comparable to the EPU. The clearing away of postwar emergency barriers merges indistinguishably into the continuing job of reducing obstacles to trade rooted in the national policies and protectionist measures of each country.

There is no satisfactory measure of the OEEC's accomplishment in removing quotas. Nevertheless there can be little doubt that liberalization has had an effect on the course of trade among the participating countries. Increased production, fewer shortages, and easier intra-European payments have removed the rationale of some postwar import quotas. But at the same time, by increasing competition they have strengthened pressure for the maintenance of protective trade barriers.

The OEEC measures concentrated on the removal of quotas as the most immediate necessity. Their success has enhanced the importance of tariffs as barriers to intra-European trade. To date the OEEC has found no means of bringing about agreement among its members on the reduction of tariffs. Creation of tariff preferences among the OEEC countries, suggested as a way of bringing about further duty reductions, raises a series of difficulties and focuses attention on the rela-

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