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

By William Diebold Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY
A PROPOSED SCANDINAVIAN CUSTOMS UNION AND SOME OTHERS

NORWAY, Sweden and Denmark have been wholly separate countries, with different rulers and governments, only since 1905. During most of the 19th Century Norway and Sweden had the same king and for over 400 years before that the king of Denmark ruled Norway. From the 1870's to the First World War, the three countries formed a monetary union, the currency of each circulating freely as legal tender in all. Beginning in the 1880's the three countries developed a technique of enacting uniform legislation on many commercial and financial matters. By the Oslo Convention of 1930 they tried unsuccessfully, along with the Low Countries, to reduce tariffs and remove quotas on trade among themselves. The idea of forming a customs union naturally arose from time to time. Norway and Sweden had had a partial customs union from 1874 to 1897; the "Nordic clause" was one of the recognized regional exceptions to the most-favored-nation clause, but the Scandinavian countries made little use of it.

With this background it was almost inevitable that a Scandinavian customs union should again be proposed at the end of the Second World War. Its chief proponent was C. V. Bramsnaes, director of the national bank of Denmark, who says he formed his opinions on the subject as the result of wartime discussions. When Bramsnaes put forward his idea in 1945, at the first postwar interparliamentary conference of the Scandinavian countries, it received more support from Danes than from Swedes and Norwegians. Stimulated perhaps by the new emphasis on European cooperation, the foreign ministers of the Scandinavian countries agreed in August

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