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Conclusion: Rome Treaty

This chapter has shown that the EEC’s adoption of a self-imposed duty to develop Africa was a perfect continuation of the colonial system. The chapter was arranged around three themes – the language, context and outcome of European intervention in Africa. In the colonial era the development theory of history (civilising mission) provided the language of justification. The language of civilisation adopted in the Berlin Conference was patently neither the cause of the conference nor the reason for Europe’s expansion into Africa. The Berlin Conference was originally held to repair the relationships between European countries injured by increased demand for African territories, and in practice had nothing to do with a civilising mission. This context was replicated by the EEC in the post-war years; African colonies were originally included in the European integration project to reorganise Europe after the war, not to develop the African continent. Which means that the linguistic use of ‘development’ is similar to the deployment of civilisation in the colonial era – all front and no substance.

The inclusion of the colonies in the Rome Treaty in a reformulation of the colonial relationship was central to the European integration project for both France and Britain, as noted by Butler (see above). The inclusion of the colonies was a response to the restructuring of Europe following the decline in influence of Britain and France. The Rome Treaty created the foundation for the EU, and also formed the basis of West Africa’s modern trade and development system with the EU. Part IV of the treaty created a space for the inclusion of the colonies. The stated purpose of including the colonies, as set out in the document, was “to promote the economic and social development of the countries [the colonies] and territories and to establish close economic relations between them and the Community as a whole” (Part IV, Rome Treaty, 1957). In addition, the “association shall serve primarily to further the interests and prosperity of the inhabitants of these countries and territories in order to lead them to the economic, social and cultural development to which they aspire” (ibid.). This is the language of development, which should be understood in light of the change in the language of justification during the war.

Like the Berlin conference, not one African country was consulted on its inclusion in the Rome Treaty. But even more importantly, the immediate trade system enacted by the original Rome Treaty under the heading of development was an extension of the contemporary colonial monopoly to other EEC members. That is, France extended its trade monopoly in the colonies to Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and West Germany. Although the language of free trade was used to describe the economic arrangements made in Part IV of the Rome Treaty (ibid.), this rhetoric was deflated by a committee set up as part of an effort by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to investigate the trade system. The GATT committee regarded the trade system created by the Rome Treaty between the EEC and the West African colonies as merely “an extension of the existing preferential arrangement” (Barnes, 1967: 9-10). This is also the submission of the United Nations Commission for Africa. In other words, existing preferential arrangements such as France’s trade monopoly were extended to the other EEC members in the name of economic development. In turn, the other EEC countries agreed to contribute to the maintenance of the colonies, replacing French colonial aid in principle (Marcussen and Torp, 1982: 50).

However, as West Africa was still under colonial rule at the time of the Rome Treaty, independence led to the transformation of Part IV of the treaty, which detailed the trade system between EEC and its colonies, into an international trade system (Bartels, 2007: 729). This was the beginning of EU trade experiment with West Africa. As the next chapter will argue, the neo-colonial intentions of the trade system merged with the local political elite search for bases for survival.

Chapter 5: Yaoundé Convention. 1960-1975


The first European Economic Community (EEC) trade system, established in the Yaoundé Convention, covered the period from 1963 to 1975. With the exception of Guinea, all of France’s former colonies in West Africa signed up to the Yaoundé Convention. As the former British colonies and Guinea were not part of the Yaoundé Convention, they were not exposed to either the advantages or disadvantages conferred by the Yaoundé provisions. This offers a useful opportunity to test our theory of threat-induced diversification by comparing the economic and political trajectory (followed by ruling elite for political survival) of the former French colonies with that of the former British colonies and Guinea. The main question addressed in this chapter concerns the extent to which the first of the EEC trade systems (under the Yaoundé Convention) functioned as a tool for the extension of the colonial economic system by interacting with ruling elites quest for survival to prevent diversification. In other words, to what extent did the ruling elites of West African countries used the Yaoundé convention as the economic basis for their survival?

To answer this question, the development trajectories of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire—outside and within the EEC trade bloc, respectively—are compared. The thesis of the chapter is that the provisions of the Yaoundé Convention (in its interaction with political elites’ quest for survival) protected the minimum economic performance level in Côte d’Ivoire and other Yaoundé associated countries, while Ghana and other non-associated countries experienced threats and diversified in a bid to search for new bases of state rule and political survival.

Throughout the period covered by the Yaoundé Convention, Ghana allocated resources on the basis of ‘systemic vulnerabilities’. Whenever the international price of the country’s main export product (cocoa beans) dropped below a certain level, the ruling elites becomes insecure and the government of Ghana put forward a program for diversification in a bid to search for new bases for survival. This was also the case in Guinea, Nigeria and other countries outside the EEC trade system. In Côte d’Ivoire, by contrast, the Yaoundé provisions not only removed the policy space required to diversify but subsidised the contemporary export system such that internal (price-induced) pressure to alter production or export pattern was largely absent.

By extension, therefore, association with the EEC created a gulf between Yaoundé-affiliated and non-Yaoundé-affiliated West African countries during the first development decade, the 1960s. The two groups of countries were as follows.

  • Affiliated countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Dahomey (Benin), Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), Togo and Niger. In 1975, at the end of the Yaoundé trade experiment, the affiliated countries were more dependent in terms of product and market concentration than during the late-colonial years. For example, the Ivorian market concentration in cocoa beans increased from 40 percent in 1960 to 73 percent in 1975 (Tuinder, 1978: 344). On average, these countries grew faster than their non-affiliated counterparts, but could made no attempt to diversify away from their respective colonial products. Furthermore, countries in this group experienced less economic crisis and by extension less political crisis.

  • Unaffiliated countries: Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. By 1975, all of these countries had endeavoured to diversify away from colonial products in search for political survival. For example, the negative effects of a potential commodity price drop on government revenue, balance of payments and ultimately political and social stability encouraged diversification. The 1961 commodity crisis led to a balance of payments crisis in Ghana, which in turn led to an austerity budget and finally social and political crisis. The ruling elites felt threatened and diversified. The economy of the neighboring Guinea had completely diversified into minerals by 1965, due to the 1961 commodity crisis. Although the unaffiliated countries were much more diversified than their affiliated counterparts by 1975, they grew at a slower rate and all encountered variations of political crisis.

The unaffiliated countries therefore conformed to the political origins of diversification in LAO societies while the affiliated countries used the trade system as a system of extraversion. 13

This chapter prepares the ground for investigation of the EEC’s more recent (1975 and 2000) trade systems in the following chapters of this study. Whereas the Yaoundé decade was characterised by divergence in development, because not all West African countries were part of the EEC trade system in the 1960s, the development trajectories of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire began to converge in the subsequent development decades, mainly due to Ghana’s joining the trade system in 1975. Indeed, all of the countries of West Africa joined the EEC trade system in 1975, and the outcome was a marked similarity in development trajectories, namely a specialisation in sub-optimal sectors selected by the European Union (EU).

This chapter is organised as follows.

Following the current introductory section, the second section demonstrates the historical similarities between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire until their divergence after the commodity crisis of 1961. The commodity crisis caused economic and political disturbance in Ghana (systemic vulnerability), which prompted the ruling elites to diversify away from cocoa in pursuit of political survival. In contrast, Côte d’Ivoire was shielded from crisis by price support/subsidies, in return for reduced policy space. After 1961, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire followed different trajectories.

The third section of the chapter comprises a case study of Ghana’s development trajectory from 1961 to 1975. The link between commodity price reduction and threat to political elites is explored to confirm, and then the link and between such threats and government efforts to diversify under the regimes of both Kwame Nkrumah and his successors is explored in details. The Ghana case study will confirm the political origins of economic change in LAO.

The fourth part of the chapter comprises a case study of Côte d’Ivoire’s development trajectory from 1961 to 1975. The region’s development trajectory is shown to be an outcome of the trade system installed by the EEC; or, more accurately, the trade system installed by France and preserved by the EEC. Côte d’Ivoire’s economic success, which many scholars consider a miracle, was simply due to an expanded market advantage for colonial products. The ruling elites were protected against the vagaries of the market through the mechanism of price support.

In the final part of the chapter, the investigation of the divergence between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire is extended to West African countries at large. The development trajectories of Guinea, Nigeria, Togo, Niger and Cameroon are introduced.

In conclusion, this chapter will show how the quest for political survival in times of threat has induced political elites in Ghana to promote diversification and industrialisation, and how the EEC trade system has secured the position of ruling elites in Côte d’Ivoire by guaranteeing minimum economic performance and perpetuating a static production system.

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