Edited by William A. Kerr and James D. Gaisford
Chapter 44: International Commodity Agreements
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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