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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


In 1988 the foreign trade bureaucracy reflected the monopoly specification system created by the 1930 Decree Number 358. Under the authority of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and the Council of Ministers, six central bodies, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, and numerous FTOs together planned, regulated, monitored, and carried out all Soviet foreign economic activity (see fig. 23).


Although the CPSU has ultimate authority over all foreign economic activity, in the late 1980s administrative control was centralized in the Council of Ministers. More specifically, the council's State Foreign Economic Commission coordinated the activities of ministries and departments in the area of economic and scientific cooperation with socialist, developing, and developed capitalist states.

Six central bodies under the Council of Ministries played important roles in foreign economic relations. The import and export of goods, services, and resources were managed by the State Planning Committee (Gosudarstvennyi planovyi komitet--Gosplan), the State Committee for Material and Technical Supply (Gosudarstvennyi komitet po material'no-tekhnicheskomu snabzheniiu--Gossnab), and the State Committee for Science and Technology (Gosudarstvennyi komitet po nauke i tekhnike--GKNT). Gosplan formulated all import and export plans, coordinated the allocation of investment and other resources, and had final authority over all decisions concerning foreign trade, including trade levels and commodity composition. Gossnab coordinated the allocation of resources not handled by Gosplan and, as the central agency responsible for matching supplies with customers, played a major role in selecting and allocating imports. GKNT negotiated technical cooperation agreements and monitored license and patent purchases and sales in order to introduce new technology into the Soviet economy.

The State Committee on Prices (Gosudarstvennyi komitet po tsenam--Goskomtsen), the Ministry of Finance, and the State Bank (Gosudarstvennyi bank--Gosbank) held jurisdiction over the financing of foreign trade. Goskomtsen established prices for all imports and some exports. The Ministry of Finance controlled the balance of payments (see Glossary) and monitored the impact of foreign trade on the state budget. Finally, Gosbank set the exchange rate for the ruble (for value of the ruble--see Glossary) and managed the system of exchange within the Soviet Union. Gosbank supervised the Foreign Economic Activity Bank (Vneshnii ekonomicheskii bank--Vneshekonombank; until January 1, 1988, known as the Foreign Trade Bank), which provided international banking services for Soviet FTOs.

Data as of May 1989