The history of the world economy has, during the past two decades or so experienced two interesting developments. On the one hand, there has been a tremendous drive for international economic integration. Indeed, there are more schemes under that heading than could reasonably be discussed in a single large book (see El-Agraa, 1982c). On the other hand, there has been a revival of protectionism — see the various publications by the Cambridge Economic Policy Group setting out the economic rationale for their protectionist stance, and Page (1979) for a global empirical assessment. These might not seem like contradictory tendencies for those who believe that ‘free trade areas’, ‘customs unions’, ‘common markets’, etc. are essentially inward-looking groupings which discriminate against the relevant ‘outsiders’. However, this point of view needs to be examined with a great deal of caution: economic integration promotes free trade among the participating nations; under the rules of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), such groupings are not allowed to erect a common tariff barrier in excess of the average pre-integration tariff level; and the world has experienced general reductions in the level of tariffs under the Dillon and Kennedy Rounds of tariff negotiations conducted under the auspices of GATT. It is, therefore, vital that a thorough reappraisal of these developments be undertaken.
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- General Introduction
Ali M. El-Agraa
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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