Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Trade Cooperation Within the ECAFE Region

The idea of regional economic cooperation has gained strong support during the post-War period. The geographical proximity of different countries in the same region has often led to similar resource bases, common historical experience, and similar cultural and social evolutions. They have more common problems among themselves than with outsiders and a more common outlook, and, therefore, have greater scope for fruitful interchange of views and experiments, and a larger field of productive cooperation and collaboration. If individually many of them feel small and helpless, they can seek solace and support among themselves. The United Nations has recognized the role of regional cooperation by setting up various regional bodies—Economic Commissions, as they are called—and these bodies have done valuable work in bringing out the special features and problems of the regions with which they are concerned. The regional commissions have conducted regional studies, organized seminars and discussions on important problems of the region, and fostered regional understanding and cooperation. Now they are turning to a very important and controversial sphere, viz., the sphere of trade cooperation for the region or its important parts. The trade cooperation contemplated has a distinct preferential and discriminatory ring. This has given rise to some competi¬tion and anxiety, and led to plans for defensive action in other regions, and sometimes even within the region itself. The leadership has come from the most developed region, viz., Europe where the habit of regional cooperation was developed earlier for post-War rehabilitation, and had taken many organizational forms like the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), the European Payments Union (EPU), the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), etc., and where common defence and political problems are a powerful cementing force. Two strong trading bloc arrangements have sprung up in Europe, viz., the European Common Market for six countries—France, Italy, Western Germany and the Benelux Union, i.e., the three countries of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemberg

D. T. Lakdawala

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