OUTLINE OF THE GROWTH, COMPOSITION AND RECENT HISTORY OF THE EXPORT TRADE
With the exception of palm produce these exports date from about 1900. Such staples of the present West African export trade as groundnuts and cocoa were either absent from the trade returns fifiy years ago, or were of negligible importance. Palm produce, which was by far the most important Nigerian export at the turn of the century, had increased about eightfold by the mid-1930's; nevertheless, despite this remarkable rate of increase, palm produce is now only one of three principal agricultural exports. The phenomenal history of the Gold Coast cocoa industry is well known. The annual value of cocoa exports fiom West Africa at present is about E80 m. Cocoa in West Africa and rubber in south-east Asia are in a class by themselves, as they are by far the most important cash crops produced by local populations in the Colonial Empire. After several decades of rapid expansion the volume of the principal export crops has been rather erratic since the mid-~gga's.