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Global coal trade: An international political economy approach.

Parker, Paul Kenneth (1990) Global coal trade: An international political economy approach. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis argues that to better understand global coal trade, the conventional economic model of trade needs to be replaced with a more comprehensive international political economy model of trade. The rapid growth of global coal trade during the 1970s and 1980s is disaggregated by coal type, source and destination. The extent and adequacy of various data sets are assessed and contract data are selected as the source of greatest information. The limitations of the conventional least cost trade model are then evaluated using detailed Japanese and European trade data. The global coal trade is found not to conform with a uniform commodity market model, but to be fragmented. A new international political economy model is then developed to explain and evaluate the structures which create a fragmented coal trade. The importance of security, production, financial and information structures are each examined in turn. The security structure identifies the policies and decisions of the state and their importance in shaping trade. Important state initiatives include the protection of domestic industry and the promotion of diverse supply sources. Governments also enter bilateral trade and investment agreements and form international entities like the International Energy Agency which affect coal trade. Most studies of the coal trade concentrate on the production structure where investment in mines creates the productive capacity of the industry. Particular attention is paid to investment where mines are integrated either horizontally or vertically into large productive units which may effect bargaining power in the trade. The financial structure grew in importance in the 1970s and 1980s. Coal mines are increasingly financed on an independent project basis. However, loan finance is not necessarily independent of traditional investors. Linkages among loans to established joint venture partners or parent corporations and long term contracts are shown to be strong. The information structure is rarely studied, but essential to the trade process. Specialised information institutions have evolved to facilitate the reliable and coordinated control over trade flows. Japanese trading houses, sogo shosha, are shown to have an especially strong role in global coal trade. This pattern is contrasted with the declining and specialised role of European coal traders. The comparison of Japanese and European trade patterns and the attitudes of regional consumers offers a better understanding of global trade patterns than that offered by simple competitive models. The result is not only more detailed insight into trade patterns, but a better understanding of the resource trade process.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Economics, Commerce-Business
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1097

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