Handbook on International Trade Policy
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Handbook on International Trade Policy

Edited by William A. Kerr and James D. Gaisford

The Handbook on International Trade Policy is an insightful and comprehensive reference tool focusing on trade policy issues in the era of globalization. Each specially commissioned chapter deals with important international trade issues, discusses the current literature on the subject, and explores major controversies. The Handbook also directs the interested reader to further sources of information.
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Chapter 44: International Commodity Agreements

Christopher L. Gilbert


Christopher L. Gilbert Introduction The term ‘international commodity agreement’ (henceforth ICA) refers to a treatyagreement between governments of both producing and consuming countries to regulate the terms of international trade in a specified commodity. There have only been five ICAs which have had ‘economic’ (that is interventionist) clauses:1 the International Cocoa Agreement (ICCA), the International Coffee Agreement (ICOA), the International Natural Rubber Agreement (INRA), the International Sugar Agreement (ISA) and the International Tin Agreement (ITA). In the second section of this chapter, I look at the growth of the ICA movement up to the end of the 1970s. The third section summarizes the main features of the five ICAs. The fourth section looks at problems associated with the agreement price range. The fifth section is devoted to the decline of the ICAs through the 1980s and 1990s. The sixth section attempts to evaluate the success of the agreements, while the seventh section is devoted to the claim that the ICOA, the most successful of the five agreements, functioned as an internationally sanctioned cartel. The final section contains a brief summary. Genesis Primary commodity markets have been subjected to governmental intervention at least as far back as the 1930s. At the end of the Second World War, there was a widespread expectation that low prices and excess capacity might return. The unratified 1948 Havana Charter, which would have set up the International Trade Organization as the third pillar of Bretton Woods, included measures aimed at the alleviation of...

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