When dependency becomes irrelevant : The decline of British bargaining power in asymmetrical bilateral trade relations, 1945–1965

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Title: When dependency becomes irrelevant : The decline of British bargaining power in asymmetrical bilateral trade relations, 1945–1965
Author: Jensen-Eriksen, Niklas
Contributor organization: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science
Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Yleisen valtio-opin laitos
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för allmän statslära
Date: 2008-03-10
Language: fin
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/11069
Thesis level: Master’s thesis
Abstract: Albert O. Hirschman argued in 1945 that asymmetrical interdependence is an important source of power for the less-dependent country. Since then, many scholars have supported this argument. However, students of asymmetrical interdependence have given little attention to the administrative aspects of trade or to the significance of trade regimes. Most have assumed that governments can manipulate trade relations if they wish in order to use them as tools of policy. In this thesis it will be argued that the ability of a government to do this is crucially dependent on institutional factors, particularly regarding its ability to control foreign trade. A government that has inadequate regulatory tools to direct the flow of trade cannot benefit from asymmetrical dependence. This kind of dependence is therefore not as important a source of economic power to the government of a larger country as most scholars seem to think. During the period looked at in this study, Argentina, Denmark and Finland were all strongly dependent on the UK for trade. Based on the theories of asymmetrical interdependence, one could conclude that the British government must have been capable of putting effective pressure on these smaller countries. In the 1930s this was certainly the case, but after the war the British influence declined dramatically. In the cases of Finland and Argentina, this initially reflected a British need to buy primary products from these countries. However, in the long run, the main factor that reduced the British government’s bargaining power was the liberalisation of foreign trade that occurred during the 1950s and 1960s. After liberalisation, most foreign goods entered the UK without government involvement; it was difficult for the authorities to cut or limit this trade simply because they wanted to put pressure on those countries that were reluctant to buy enough British goods. Furthermore, as the other governments similarly relinquished control of their foreign trade, their ability to implement policies beneficial to the British declined. This study is mostly based on the previously classified internal records of the British government, as well as on published works.
Description: Only abstract. Paper copies of master’s theses are listed in the Helka database (http://www.helsinki.fi/helka). Electronic copies of master’s theses are either available as open access or only on thesis terminals in the Helsinki University Library.Vain tiivistelmä. Sidottujen gradujen saatavuuden voit tarkistaa Helka-tietokannasta (http://www.helsinki.fi/helka). Digitaaliset gradut voivat olla luettavissa avoimesti verkossa tai rajoitetusti kirjaston opinnäytekioskeilla.Endast sammandrag. Inbundna avhandlingar kan sökas i Helka-databasen (http://www.helsinki.fi/helka). Elektroniska kopior av avhandlingar finns antingen öppet på nätet eller endast tillgängliga i bibliotekets avhandlingsterminaler.
Subject: economic power
asymmetrical interdependence
Great Britain
foreign trade
trade relations

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