The Commonwealth Economic Community.

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by lounge60, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. lounge60 Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    What if after WW-II ,UK had established an Commonwealth Economic Community between Great Britain,Canada,Australia,New Zealand,and maybe South Africa,in the same way of OTL, EEC European Economic Community?
  2. TheMann Canuckwanker in Chief

    Aug 4, 2006
    Toronto, Canada
    Not sure it would be of much help or practicality at that point. Britain needed to be more with Europe, not with the far-off Commonwealth territories.
  3. sparky42 CMII

    Jun 1, 2010
    The Real Capital of Ireland
    What would the population levels look like? Even with the War I would imagine that Europe and it's market were larger than the Dominions, particularly if you exclude South Africa.
  4. Simon Thread Killer Extraordinaire

    Sep 20, 2009
    Could they not do both? If they're both more free trade zones than anything else then it doesn't have to be mutually incompatible, at least not for a while until they probably have to decide. You would have to find a way to keep goods imported from the Commonwealth being re-exported to Europe and vice versa to stop it being used as a back door but that shouldn't be an insurmountable problem.
  5. Iserlohn Ukulele Villain

    Dec 29, 2009
    County of Mark
    Well, if the Commonwealth would have included countries that weren't British colonies or dominions that it might turn out profitable. The two most obvious countries are Norway (which considered joining the Commonwealth IOTL) and Iceland. Also important for the British and the Commonwealth at large is access to African ressources, particulary in South Africa and Nigeria. If the two of them remain bound to Britain, like for example having the Federation of Nigeria surviving. If South Africa parts with London then any connection to Australia and New Zealand is even harder to maintain in such a close community.

    So... It's hard, but it can work if both Britain and Canada have nearby, economically strong additional member states. So... Add Norway into the mix, then maybe a "(North) Atlantic Commonwealth Economic Forum" might emerge, closely tied with the Commonwealth of Nations.
  6. Blackfox5 Well-Known Member

    Sep 2, 2010
    This is pretty much what Britain was trying to do with Imperial Preference before and after the war. The main reasons it didn't go through were because:

    1) The United States was opposed to any deal where the British Empire discriminated against the US. The US wanted free trade with those countries and was an important trading partner with multiple countries there.

    2) London lost more and more of its influence among Commonwealth countries during the course of the war. Canada always had to balance its relationship with the US, and Australia decisively move towards the US during the war since Britain proved incapable of protecting it. Even without US pressure, these countries might not think it made best sense to tie themselves so closely with Britain when other associations might be better for them.

    3) If by Economic Community you mean the type of economic coordination found in the early European Coal & Steel Community or European Economic Community, that goes against the general desire for Britain and these other countries to do their own thing and not have their sovereignty infringed by multilateral deals.

    4) Britain was always trying to balance their desire for closer integration within the Empire/Commonwealth and cooperation with Europe. By going an EC route within the Commonwealth, they are decisively turning their back on Europe and possibly losing influence with France, the Low Countries, Scandinavia, and other countries.

    So in general, Britain would lose some influence in Europe and possibly offend the United States at a time when Britain was very dependent on US assistance and cooperation. Immediately after the war, it might give an additional boost to Britain, but long term a pact with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand does not make economic sense by costing you France, Germany, Italy, Holland, and other European countries.

    The right time for closer ties within the Empire would have been during the 1920s, or with a very different WWII that did not cost the British so much.
  7. Dunois Franco-British Patriot!

    Jul 4, 2009
    The only way something like this could happen is if the core of the Commonwealth and the nascent EEC effectively merge into a single organisation. It would require a lot of compromises and in my opinion a different course to WW2 so that this coukd be built up on the back of war cooperation.

    Such a scenario would be the best of all worlds for Britain, enabling new markest to be accessed in Europe while keeping traditional links with the ANZACs and Canada. The Dominions would in turn benefit by widening their exports to Europe.
  8. Devvy Idiot.

    Feb 6, 2011
    This is something that I looked into as well a while back. My conclusion was basically that anything to this level needs founding roots before WWII. Anything starting afterwards was bound for failure.

    Basically the crux is that Australia & NZ enjoy significant advantages to selling agricultural goods into the UK, and Canada is economically tied to the US. Anything which adds more members that can sell agriculturally into the UK risks peeving off Australia & NZ. Australia & NZ are also attempting to set up industrial economies, and have customs barriers against imports - even from the UK. Canada has always been frosty against tighter economic relations with the UK, even when an FTA was proposed by the UK.

    The entry of France into the Commonwealth risks pissing off India, Sri Lanka & Pakistan due to French racial policies (particularly in north Africa). Worries were significant that if France joined, India would leave. If India left, then this would have a real impact on other newly independent ex-Empire states joining the Commonwealth (what's the point in joining, what purpose does it serve?) - people like Ghana.

    There were also worries that attracting the traditional pro-UK members of Europe into the Commonwealth and some kind of trading agreement (ie. France, Denmark, Norway, probably the Netherlands) would risk pushing the rest of Europe into some kind of economic union with West Germany, leaving the continent heavily fractured, with one side headed by 2 global heavyweights whose economies are struggling post war (UK + France).

    Bear in mind that most cities in western Europe (and many towns) have a larger population then the whole of Iceland. :)
  9. Some Bloke Well-Known Member

    Jun 13, 2008
    A small village in Arkhamshire.
    Perhaps an economic community evolves from other changes within the empire. Stronger implementation of Imperial Preference during the interwar years, maybe the establishment of a proper Imperial War Cabinet during WWII coordinating on economic as well as strategic issues.
  10. The Oncoming Storm Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2010
    Fighting the system from within
    This is the key bit, the Debacles of France, Norway and especially Malaya, effectively killed any chance of a meaningful post war Commonwealth. The impression created was that Britain was an exhausted power that had to keep being bailed out by the Americans and that it was America who you needed to have as your key ally post war. It also didn't help that many British politicians, such as Churchill, had a very patronising attitude to "The Colonials." If a "Commonwealth Community" is going to be a runner then its going to need to be more like the EU than the British Empire with all members treated equally which means has to give up exclusive leadership.