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Associates and Associables: the Failure of Commonwealth Bridge-Building, 1971–3

  • Olusola Akinrinade (a1)

When Britain first made a bid for membership of the European Economic Community (E.E.C.) in the early 1960s, it was generally understood that its negotiators had the responsibility for safeguarding the interests of other Commonwealth countries. Although the matter was discussed briefly by the Heads of Government in January 1971, and more fully later that year at the Nassau meeting of Finance Ministers, it was realised by all parties concerned that the other members of the Commonwealth would have to deal themselves with the effect of British entry into the E.E.C. and negotiate directly with the European Commission.

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page 177 note 1 Meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government, Singapore, 15–22 January 1971: minutes of meetings and memoranda, 21 01 1971, pp. 8699; Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Arnold Cantwell Smith Papers (hereinafter, S.P.), Vol. 23/3.

page 177 note 2 Commonwealth Finance Ministers' Conference held at Nassau, 23–24 September 1971, Final Communiqué.

page 178 note 1 West Africa (London), 30 07 1971, p. 879.

page 179 note 1 Spokesman (Accra), 14 05 1971.

page 179 note 2 West Africa, 19 November 1971, p. 1367.

page 179 note 3 Ibid. 4 June 1971, pp. 621–2, and 16 July 1971, p. 810.

page 179 note 4 See, among others, Essien, Effiong, ‘What are Nigeria's Prospects when UK goes into Europe?’, in Daily Times (Lagos), 10 06 1971, Peter Osugo, ‘What's Nigeria's Position if UK Joins?’, in Ibid. 12 August 1971, and Adebisi Ajayi, ‘Should Nigeria Join the European Market?’, in Ibid. 18 March 1972.Cf. these with ‘Awo Warns Nigeria Against Joining Any Common Market’, in Nigerian Observer (Benin City), 3 08 1971,Makele, Mamman Ali, ‘Why Nigeria Must Not Be Tied to UK's Apron String’, in Daily Times, 16 August 1972, and the editorials in New Nigerian (Kaduna), 12 07 1971 and 25 09 1972.

page 180 note 1 Daily Times, 16 August 1972.

page 180 note 2 Following the failure of the first British attempt to enter the E.E.C., a number of African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Nigeria, had negotiated association agreements with the E.E.C. However, the rôle of France during the Nigerian civil war, and the performance of the economy which showed that it needed no artificial stimulus, combined to give the Nigerian Government the confidence in October 1968 to repudiate the Lagos Agreement, which had never become operational, not having been ratified by either Luxembourg or France.

page 180 note 3 New Nigerian, 25 September 1972.

page 180 note 4 Ibid. 12 July 1971.

page 180 note 5 Daily Sketch (Ibadan), 19 02 1973.

page 180 note 6 Daily Times, 26 September 1972.

page 180 note 7 West Africa, 9 October 1972, p. 1349.

page 180 note 8 Daily Sketch, 19 February 1973. Other visitors included Lord Carrington, Defence Secretary, Lady Tweedsmuir, Minister of State in the Foreign Office, Roy Jenkins, Chancellor in the previous Labour Government, and André Bettencourt, Minister-Delegate in the French Foreign Ministry.

page 181 note 1 Bloom, Bridget, ‘Africa and the EEC’, in Legum, Colin (ed.), Africa Contemporary Record, 1973–74 (London, 1974), p. A16.

page 182 note 1 The Times (London), 25 06 1971.

page 182 note 2 Report of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, 1973 (London, 1973), pp. xv–xvi.Smith, Arnold, with Sanger, Clyde, Stitches in Time: the Commonwealth in world politics (London, 1981), p. 182, shows that the Secretary-General had held this view since the 1950s, when as Counsellor in the Canadian embassy in Brussels he had consistently urged that Britain should become a member of the E.E.C.

page 182 note 3 Smith, , Stitches in Time, p. 182.

page 182 note 4 According to Ibid. pp. 186–7, a sample survey in 1967 showed that the average margin of preferences on goods made in the E.E.C. was 14 per cent in Côte d'Ivoire and 21 per cent in Senegal. See also Address by the Secretary-General, Arnold Smith, to the Twenty-Fifth Congress of the Federation of Commonwealth Chambers of Commerce, 5 June 1972’, Commonwealth Secretariat, London, 1972.

page 182 note 5 Smith, , Stitches in Time, pp. 186–7.

page 183 note 1 Ibid. pp. 187–8.

page 183 note 2 Implications of British E.E.C. Membership for the Commonwealth’, Speech by the Commonwealth Secretary-General to the Foreign Press Association, London, 18 05 1972.

page 184 note 1 Ibid. Also, West Africa, 2 June 1972, p. 699.

page 184 note 2 An announcement that The Gambia was inclined to take this action was later declared by the President to be premature; West Africa, 9 October 1972, p. 1349.

page 184 note 3 ‘Preliminary Paper on Relations Between the Developing Countries in Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean and the Enlarged European Community’, dated 10 February 1972; Commonwealth Secretariat, Relations with the Enlarged European Economic Community: records of meetings of officials, London, April 1972. Part I (London, 1972).

page 184 note 4 These included ‘Institutional Arrangements under the Yaoundé Convention and Arusha Agreement’, dated 22 March 1972, ‘Development Assistance Provided by the EEC’ and ‘Tropical Vegetable Oilseeds’, dated 24 March 1972, and ‘Cocoa’, dated 29 March 1972, in Ibid.

page 184 note 5 ‘The Association Agreement Between the EEC and Partner States of the East African Community’, dated 29 March 1972, in Ibid.

page 184 note 6 ‘Some Economic Issues Arising from the Options Offered by the Enlarged European Economic Community to the Developing Countries in Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean’, dated 23 March and revised 19 June 1972, in Commonwealth Secretariat, Relations with the Enlarged European Economic Community: records of meetings of officials, London, July 1972. Part 2 (London, 1972).

page 185 note 1 West Africa, 2 October 1972, p. 1313.

page 185 note 2 ‘An Appreciation of the Working of the EEC/EA Association Agreement’, Secretariat Circular Letter, dated 26 July 1972, prepared by the East African Community Common Market and Economic Affairs Secretariat, Arusha.

page 185 note 3 ‘Some Considerations Relevant to the Association Between the EEC and the Associated African and Malagasy States’, Secretariat Circular Letter, dated 7 July 1972, in Commonwealth Secretariat, Relations with…Part 2.

page 185 note 4 ‘Some Aspects of Development Assistance with the Enlargement of the EEC and the Options of Association/Trade Agreements Extended under Protocol 22 of the Treaty of Accession’, Secretariat Circular Letter, dated 20 July 1972, prepared by the U.K. Overseas Development Administration, London.

page 185 note 5 ‘Administrative Arrangements’, dated 30 June 1972, and ‘Franc Zone’, n.d., in Commonwealth Secretariat, Relations with…Part 2.

page 185 note 6 ‘Tobacco’, dated 15 June 1972, ‘Bananas’, 30 June 1972, and ‘Beef’, 8 July 1972, in Ibid.

page 186 note 1 Note of a Meeting between the Commonwealth Secretary-General and President Kaunda of Zambia, Lusaka, 28 January 1973; Diary, 22–9 January 1973, S.P. Vol. 12/10. ‘In the tradition of the Canadian Ministry of External Affairs, Arnold Smith kept a “Diary” of correspondence sent and received. This system was expanded to include a mixture of irregular diary entries dictated by Smith; memoranda and summaries of meetings by senior aides on Smith's meetings with heads of governments and senior officials of various Commonwealth countries; copies of speeches and addresses; copies of circular letters from the office of the Secretary-General to various Commonwealth governments; reports by various sections of the Secretariat on educational, legal, medical, economic, technical and political matters; inner office memoranda, etc…’. Olusola Akinrinade, ‘Africa and the Commonwealth’, Ph.D. thesis, University of London, 1988, p. 429.

page 186 note 2 Note of the Secretary-General's Discussions in Kenya with Mwai Kibaki, Minister of Finance, and Njoroge Mungai, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nairobi, 5 February 1973; Diary, 1–6 February 1973, S.P. Vol. 12/12.

page 186 note 3 Letter from the Acting Kenyan High Commissioner to Smith, Arnold, 12 February 1973; Diary, 7–28 February 1973, S.P. Vol. 13/1.

page 187 note 1 ‘Realations with Enlarged EEC– Accra Meeting’, note for file prepared by Hunter Wade, 15 February 1973; Ibid.

page 187 note 2 West Africa, 19 February 1973, p. 252.

page 187 note 3 The E.C.A., being a U.N. body, allowed E.E.C. members to be present as observers, and it has been suggested that the decision on the part of Nigeria, Kenya, and some ‘key African states’ to have the E.E.C. matter removed from the agenda was prompted by their conclusion that an African stand towards Europe should be evolved at a purely African forum. See Bloom, ‘Africa and the EEC’, p. A17.

page 187 note 4 West Africa, 5 March 1973, p. 299.

page 187 note 5 Diary entry for 2 March 1973; S.P. Vol. 13/2.

page 187 note 6 ‘Transcript of a Telephone Conversation between the S.G. [in London] and Wade, Hunter [in Accra]’, 19 February 1973; S.P. Vol. 13/1.

page 187 note 7 Diary entry for 2 March 1973; S.P. Vol. 13/2. See also Smith, Stitches in Time, p. 196. As a known friend of Wenike Briggs, there was some speculation – for example, by Hunter Wade – that the Commercial Counsellor may have been ‘set up’ by Nigerian officials. Sir Martin Le Quesne confirmed the reception incident during interviews with the author in London, 4 February and 23 March 1988, but denied that he either mischievously or intentionally set out to mislead anybody.

page 188 note 1 Letter from Smith, Arnold to High Commissioners, 20 February 1973; S.P. Vol. 13/1.

page 188 note 2 West Africa, 5 March 1973, p. 298.

page 188 note 3 Ibid. 21 April 1972, p. 500.

page 188 note 4 ‘Ist Meeting: Summary Record on Meeting on Monday 22 May 1972’, in Commonwealth Secretariat, Relations with the Enlarged European Economic Community: records of meetings of High Commission Representatives of countries listed in Annex VI to the Treaty of Accession of the United Kingdom to the EEC, April–December 1972 (London, 1973), p. 3.

page 188 note 5 Ibid. p. 4, and ‘2nd Meeting: Summary Record of Meeting on Friday 9 June 1972’, in Ibid. pp. 15–18.

page 189 note 1 Letter from Smith, Arnold in London to S. D. Sylla in Brussels, dated 12 June 1972;Ibid. p. 195.

page 189 note 2 Letter from Poisson, Jean to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, dated 13 July 1972;Ibid. pp. 193–4.

page 189 note 3 According to West Africa, 2 October 1972, p. 1313, although O.C.A.M. only represented 13 ‘associates’, there was a tacit understanding that the Chairman could act as spokesman for all 19.

page 189 note 4 Smith, , Stitches in Time, p. 191.

page 189 note 5 Ibid. p. 189.

page 190 note 1 West Africa, 17 July 1972, p. 886.

page 190 note 2 Note for File, 4 July 1972, in Diary, 3–8 June 1972; S.P. Vol. 11/3. See also Smith, Stitches in Time, pp. 189–90. In an address to the European Commission a few months later, reported in West Africa, 9 April 1973, p. 463, President Senghor reiterated that reciprocity was one of the bases of association, and that ‘We will continue to give to Europe the Preferences she has enjoyed in our markets, as much for consideration of human dignity as for commercial and juridical reasons’.

page 190 note 3 According to Smith, Stitches in Time, p. 190, Senghor impressed him ‘as being like some black philosopher living 2000 years ago in Alexandria, convinced that Greek culture reflected the highest civilization and proud of his Roman citizenship… The views he eloquently expressed about Eurafrica were no doubt formed by his schooling in France and his membership of l'Académie Française’.

page 191 note 1 Note for File, 4 July 1972.

page 191 note 2 West Africa, 2 October 1972, pp. 1314–15.

page 191 note 3 Ibid. 16 October 1972, p. 1381.

page 191 note 4 Senghor said he personally would welcome co-operation with Nigeria, but doubted if its Government would be willing to support more than a trade agreement.

page 192 note 1 Note on the Main Points made by President Senghor to the Commonwealth Secretary-General in Paris on 5 September 1972, in Diary, 1–12 September 1972; S.P. Vol. 11/9.

page 192 note 2 The text of the President's message to Smith, Arnold, dated 18 September 1972, is to be found in S.P. Vol. 20/12, p. 258.

page 192 note 3 Ibid. p. 259. According to Smith, Stitches in Time, p. 190, during their first meeting, Senghor ‘spoke scornfully of those (mostly Germans and Dutch) in the EEC, whose eyes strayed beyond his cherished Eurafrican community’ to something approaching universalism. These people he called ‘les mondialistes’. See also S.P. Vol. 11/3, Note for File, 4 July 1972, and transcript of telephone conversation between the Secretary-General and Pick, Hella of The Guardian (London), who having interviewed Senghor earlier had decided to ‘warn’ Smith of the line that the President was likely to take when they met.

page 192 note 4 C.R.A. (72) 6th Meeting: Summary Record of Meeting on 20 September 1972; Diary,13–20 September 1972, S.P. Vol. 11/10.

page 192 note 5 Diary, 5 March 1973; S.P. Vol. 13/2.

page 192 note 6 West Africa, 2 October 1972, p. 1315.

page 192 note 7 Ibid.

page 193 note 1 Circular letter from Smith, Arnold to Commonwealth Ministers/Commissioners for External/Foreign Affairs; S.P. Vol. 20/12.

page 193 note 2 Summary Record of the Meeting between DrArikpo, Okoi…, and the Secretary-General, 1 December 1972, Diary, 1–6 December 1972; S.P. Vol. 12/6. Obviously, Smith was content to emphasise the disadvantages of Yaounde, and did not feel that it was necessary to analyse the other options.

page 194 note 1 West Africa, 5 March 1973, p. 299.

page 194 note 2 The British Foreign Office stated its disagreement with Smith's interpretation of the options in SirWatson's, Duncan letter to Arnold Smith, dated 27 October 1972; S.P. Vol. 20/12. According to Diary entry, 3 December 1972, Vol. 12/6, the French Minister-Counsellor in London, Phillipe Couvillier, informed the Secretary-General that his Government would not tolerate any interference in relations with its former colonies in Africa. Some months earlier, the Netherlands Minister in London had informed the Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth that his Government was tending towards the view that there should be one association for both anglophone and francophone African countries, more or less on the Yaoundé lines, and that the Secretariat should bear this in mind. Note for File prepared by R. H. Wade, 16 August 1972, Diary, 1–24 August 1972, Vol. 11/6.

page 194 note 3 West Africa, 16 October 1972, p. 1381, and 30 October 1972, pp. 1445–6.

page 195 note 1 C.R.A. (72) 3rd Meeting: Summary Record of Meeting of 24 July 1972; S.P. Vol. 20/12, p. 37. The Secretary-General lamented in his Diary entry for 2 March 1973 that his colleagues did not take seriously his criticisms of Yaoundé; Diary, 1–15 March 1973; S.P. Vol. 13/3. Smith, Arnold confirmed in an interview with the author in Ottawa, August 1987, that he had adopted a different approach from Wade, who felt that it was only necessary and appropriate to present the Secretariat's analyses of the various options.

page 195 note 2 West Africa, 16 October 1972, p. 1381.

page 195 note 3 Memorandum on E.E.C. and Association Questions, 21 July 1972; Diary, 19–31 July 1972; S.P. Vol. 11/5; and Diary entry, 4 September 1972, Vol. 11/9.

page 195 note 4 See Diary entries for 17 September 1972 and 14 May 1973, Vols. 11/10 and 13/6.

page 195 note 5 Relations with the Enlarged European Economic Community: records of meetings of officials. Part 1, p. 44; S.P. Vol. 27/13.

page 196 note 1 Meeting of the Commonwealth Secretary-General with the British Prime Minister,25 September 1972, Note for the Record; Diary, 21–30 September 1972; S.P. Vol. 11/11.

page 196 note 2 This was confirmed in the author's interview with two former officials of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

page 197 note 1 Bloom, loc. cit. p. A17. For details of the Ten-Point Platform, see Africa Contemporary Record, 1973–74, pp. c20–1.

page 197 note 2 The Caribbean position was presented by the Attorney-General and Foreign Minister of Guyana, Shridath Ramphal, and that of the Pacific by the Prime Minister of Fiji, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

page 197 note 3 Bloom, loc. cit. p. A17.

page 197 note 4 Record of Meeting with the Fiji Delegation, led by the Prime Minister, 26 February 1973; S.P. Vol. 13/1. Apparently still annoyed at the African action, Fiji declined the invitation to attend the July meeting of Trade Ministers in Lagos. Note from R. H. Wade to C.S.G. on relationship with the enlarged E.E.C., 21 June 1973; Diary, 20–26 06 1973; S.P. Vol. 13/9.

* This article was written while the author was on a postgraduate scholarship in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and his visit to Canada during 1987 was made possible by a grant from the central research fund of the University of London.

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