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The European economic community and the third world: rhetoric and reality

By Hashim T Gibrill


This dissertation centers on the economic treaty relations which have been forged between the European Economic Community (EEC) and groupings of Third World states. These formalized relations began to take shape from the inception of the EEC in 1957; in their present form they comprise a significant feature of the contemporary world political economy. Widely differing perceptions exist as to the essential character of these relations. Some commentators see them as a substantial reformulation, in the direction of greater equality, of past unequal relations between Western Europe and its former colonies. Other commentators see these relations as an updating and continuation of European imperialism. The general thesis of our research into these relations is that the present EEC-Third World relationship is an updating of past realities. As we see it, the relationship continues and sustains an unequal economic dependency; it is not a harbinger of any fundamentally different political economic relationship between the two blocs. In order to substantiate our thesis, we investigated three major dimensions of the EEC-Third World relationship: preferential trading arrangements; export earnings stabilization schemes; and the impact of treaty provisions on the activities of EEC-based multinational corporations in the Third World. Our research strategy involved both (1) the quantitative task of collecting and analyzing a significant body of statistical data relating to, notably, the volume and composition of EEC-Third World trade, the operation of the export earnings stabilization schemes, and the sectoral distribution of EEC private investment in the Third World, and (2) the qualitative task of locating the empirical trends revealed by the data within a theoretical framework pertaining to the historical and contemporary dynamic of political economic relations between the two blocs. Our findings in all three broad areas of research concern substantiated our general thesis, in that they revealed, among other things, that a) preferential trade arrangements have had little, if any, impact in terms of increasing the volume and diversifying the composition of Third World exports to the EEC; b) the export earnings stabilization schemes speak to the needs of EEC manufacturing and processing industries ~in terms of seeking to guarantee supplies of mineral and agricultural raw materials from African, Caribbean, and Pacific states, while at the same time, the schemes bolster the historically fashioned international division of labor between the two blocs; and c) many of the treaty provisions encourage the further penetration of Third World economies by EEC-based MNCs (and small and medium-sized firms), and provide these MNCs with a competitive advantage over their United States and Japanese rivals

Topics: Political Science
Publisher: DigitalCommons@Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta University Center
Year: 1984
OAI identifier:

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