Ottawa Agreement (1932)

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Ottawa Agreement (1932)

Ottawa Agreement (1932), a series of trade policy initiatives enacted by Britain and its dominions. Out of the 1932 Ottawa Conference came not one, but seven separate agreements, which Argentines called the "black pacts." Although the rabidly anti-Argentine press baron Lord Beaverbrook saw no distinction between these pacts and an eighth one between London and Buenos Aires, there was, nevertheless, a crucial difference. While the dominions were pressing to maximize an advance in the U.K. market, the Argentines were struggling to minimize a retreat. The former mustered telling arguments: First, Britain had long enjoyed preferences in imperial markets and conceded little in return. With free trade suspended and tariffs imposed, the dominions could press for much more. With the Great Depression demanding compassion and the Statute of Westminster (1931) weakening political control from London, subsequent imperial consolidation had to be economic.

The main implications of the Ottawa agreements for Argentina were that 33.2 percent of British imports were now subject to duties in comparison to 17.3 percent just before the conference. (Prior to 1930 none were subject.) There were also severe cuts in Argentina's exports, allowing the dominions more exports to Britain. It was in a bid to counter these slashes that the controversial Roca-Runciman Pact was negotiated between London and Buenos Aires in 1933.

See alsoBritish-Latin American Relations; Roca-Runciman Pact (1933).


Ian M. Drummond, Imperial Economic Policy, 1917–1939 (1974).

Additional Bibliography

Lobell, Steven E. "Second Image Reversed Politics: Britain's Choice of Freer Trade or Imperial Preferences, 1903–1906, 1917–1923, 1930–1932." International Studies Quarterly 43 (1999): 671-694.

                                  Roger Gravil