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EU Trade Systems and West African Ruling Elites’ Survival.

Odijie, Michael (2016) EU Trade Systems and West African Ruling Elites’ Survival. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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For researchers studying the political origins of economic change and economic diversification in the African states type, the limited economic change or transformation observed in the African continent since independence – particularly in non-resource countries – is a puzzle. The economic activities that formed the basis of state rule at independence in the 1960s were unsustainable in terms of both price and production (due to diminishing returns created by the relationship between resources and output). Therefore, ruling elites were vulnerable to political crisis and dislodgement during sustained price reduction or production difficulties. Following a reduction in export prices, for example, the pursuit of political survival (the primary political objective of ruling elites) is bound to direct ruling elites towards economic change in an attempt to retain their position. Yet most countries in West Africa have experienced virtually no economic change since independence, while enjoying internal peace and political order. Scholars have generally used foreign-aid dependency to explain how political elites have managed to maintain their position without economic change. But the aid thesis is problematic because West African countries are less dependent on foreign aid than on foreign trade. In international trade, therefore, lies the puzzle of West Africa’s limited economic transformation. The thesis contends that the limited economic transformation in West African countries is a function of the interaction between domestic ruling elites and the EU’s international trade systems with former colonies (Yaoundé Convention 1963-1975; The Lomé Convention 1975-2000 and The Cotonou Agreement 2000- present). The argument of the thesis is that the ruling elites of West African countries have historically used and continue to use the trade and development system to ensure their own political survival, and that this process has perpetuated a static production system and prevented economic diversification and institutional change in West Africa. A theory based on the Limited Access Order (LAO) of Douglass C. North and Jean-Franc̜ois Bayart’s theory of extraversion is used to advance this argument. North’s LAO framework is used to explicate the political origins of economic change in the African state type. Appended to this framework is Bayart’s theory of extraversion, which is used to capture the ways in which the EU’s trade systems interact with political elites to preclude the political conditions for economic change. One contribution of the thesis to the EU-Africa trade literature is to consider the domestic politics driving the trade system from the African perspective. This is important because scholars have continuously theorized the trade relationship with little consideration to the roles of African domestic ruling elites and domestic politics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Politics (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.713266
Depositing User: Mr. Michael E. Odijie
Date Deposited: 05 May 2017 13:43
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:38
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16954

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