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Soviet Union


In contrast to the variable trade relationships the Soviet Union has had with other West European countries, its relationship with Finland has been somewhat stable because of five-year agreements that regulated trade between the countries. The first was established in 1947, and 1986 marked the beginning of the eighth. Accounting procedures and methods of payment were agreed upon every five years as well by the Bank of Finland and Vneshtorgbank. A steady growth in trade between the two countries occurred throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

In the late 1980s, Finland was the Soviet Union's second most important trading partner among the Western nations, after West Germany. Trade with Finland, however, was based on bilateral clearing agreements (see Glossary) rather than on exchange of hard currency used with other Western trading partners. In 1986 the Soviet Union shipped 4 percent of its exports to and received 3 percent of its imports from Finland. Finland provided the Soviet Union with ships, particularly those suited to Arctic conditions; heavy machinery; and consumer goods such as clothing, textiles, processed foodstuffs, and consumer durables. The Soviet Union exported oil, natural gas, and fuel and technology for the nuclear power industry.

The system of bilateral clearing agreements on which SovietFinnish trade was based required that any increase in Finnish imports from the Soviet Union be accompanied by a corresponding increase in exports to the Soviet Union in order to maintain the bilateral trade balance. At the beginning of the 1980s, Finland increased its imports of Soviet oil, which allowed it to increase its exports to the Soviet Union. This procedure accounted for the steady growth in Soviet-Finnish trade into the late 1980s. By 1988 about 90 percent of Soviet exports to Finland consisted of oil. Because the Finns imported more oil than they could consume domestically, they reexported it to other Scandinavian and West European countries. The Finns complained in late 1987 and early 1988 of a decline in Soviet ship orders and delinquent payments. The share of Finland's exports to the Soviet Union, which had previously been as high as 25 percent, dropped to 15 percent in 1988.

Data as of May 1989