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Soviet Union


As the supplier of production machinery to all other branches of heavy industry, the machine-building and metal-working industry has stood at the center of modernization efforts, and its support of the military has been especially critical (see Industrial Organization , this ch.). But because of the systemic problems discussed earlier, in the late 1980s substantial inertia remained in machine building. Progress in one program was often negated by a bottleneck in another, and all industry felt the impact of this uneven performance.

The Structure and Status of the Machine-Building and Metal- Working Complex

In 1987 the machine-building industrial complex, one of the seven industrial complexes, included 300 branches and subbranches and a network of 700 research and planning organizations. Officially designated the machine- building and metal-working complex (MBMW), it was the most inclusive and varied industrial complex. Its three major types of product, were military hardware, consumer durables, and industrial machinery and equipment. In 1989 eighteen ministries were included, manufacturing a wide range of machinery; nine of the ministries chiefly produced military weapons or matériel. Ministries within MBMW often split the jurisdiction within a particular specialization. For example, although instrument manufacture fell mainly under MBMW'S Ministry of Instrument Making, its Ministry of the Aviation Industry and Ministry of the Shipbuilding Industry controlled manufacture of the instruments they used in their products. The contributions of MBMW included machines for mining, agriculture, and road building; equipment for conventional and nuclear power plants; oil and gas drilling and pumping equipment; and metal-working machines for all branches, including the military. In the mid-1980s, restructuring in the machine industry was a central theme of perestroika because most industries needed to update their machine stock. Western studies in the 1980s showed that 40 to 60 percent of industrial production was earmarked for military uses. In the 1980s, government policy encouraged industry to buy domestic machinery to counter a frequent preference for more reliable foreign equipment. (A 1985 study by MBMW's Ministry of Heavy Machine Building said that 50 percent of that ministry's basic products did not meet operational requirements.) In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) sent half its machine exports to the Soviet Union. At the same time, Soviet machine exports fell behind machine imports, after exports had reached a peak in 1970.

Data as of May 1989