East Africa and three international commodity agreements : the lessons of experience
East Africa relies heavily on the export of agricultural commodities for foreign exchange. Three of East Africa's most important agricultural exports have been subject to quotas under international commodity agreements: the International Coffee Agreement, the informal sisal agreement, and the informal tea agreement. This, paper focuses on a hitherto neglected aspect of their wordings: the distribution of gains from membership among exporting countries. In reviewing the major developments under each agreement, the value of commodity agreements to East African countries is questioned. Particular attention is given to the determination of export shares, which are shown to be difficult to change once allocated. The need to take account of employment effects as well as possible income gains in calculating costs/ benefits of membership of commodity agreements is emphasised.