The Effects of International Trade on Economic Development in Nigeria.

Godwin Oiseozoje Ohiwerei, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College


The primary concern of this dissertation is to present a descriptive analysis of the impact of trade and economic development during the colonial (1860 to 1960) and post colonial (1960 to 1980) periods on economic development in Nigeria. The colonial period focuses on the historical factors that influenced Nigeria's incorporation into the world capitalist system. The post colonial era focuses on the specialized economic growth and the role of foreign capital in the Nigerian modern sector (industry). Past studies on the effect of dependency and development on economic development in Africa have mostly been quantitative cross-national studies. On balance, these studies have provided some understanding of development problems in Africa. However, no full-fledged study has employed dependent-development theory to explain economic development in Nigeria as a case study. This study thus brings more specificity to the world dependency theory by focusing on international trade and investment in Nigeria. The findings showed that the incorporation of Nigeria into the world capitalist system induced the specialization of Nigeria in raw material production for export. The transformation of Nigeria into a colonial system meant that Britain created the framework for economic activity and thereby influenced the direction of economic development. The indulgence of the colony on manufactured goods resulted in an unprecedented trade balance. The colonial creation of small scale industries aided the development and growth of export commodities but did not create the market for capital intensive product which dominated import goods. The result therefore shows an uneven development. The post colonial analysis shows that Nigeria's high dependency on foreign capital and raw material exports have not prevented it from experiencing economic expansion. First, the Nigerian economy reveals that economic dependency does not always inhibit economic growth. The general concentration by dependency theorists that only semiperipheral states exhibit dependency-development does not always hold true. Peripheral states like Nigeria can and do exhibit dependency-development, when the export sector is "strong" (oil-sector), and if there is a substantial foreign investment support.