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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


The Third World embraces those countries the Soviet Union terms ""developing countries."" This category includes those countries of socialist orientation that have some sort of privileged economic affiliation with the Soviet Union, such as Afghanistan, Angola, Iraq, and Nicaragua, but excludes the developing countries ruled by Marxist-Leninist (see Glossary) parties, such as Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Soviet trade with the Third World has been marked by two characteristics. First, although the Soviet Union has generally played only a minor role in Third World trade, Soviet imports or exports have formed a large portion of the total trade of some countries. Second, the Soviet Union has concentrated its trade with the Third World in the hands of relatively few partners. For example, in 1987 India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Argentina, Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Malaysia together accounted for 75 percent of Soviet imports from and 80 percent of Soviet exports to the Third World.

Although Soviet trade with the Third World increased in volume from 1965 through 1985, it remained between 13 and 15 percent of total Soviet trade for exports and 10 and 12 percent for imports. The Third World's trade with the Soviet Union, however, decreased in the 1970s and into the 1980s. These data include Cuba, since the only figures available concerning Third World trade with the Soviet Union include Cuba. As a percentage of overall Third World trade, the Soviet Union's share fell from 3.9 percent in 1970 to 2.5 percent in 1981. Deducting Soviet trade with Cuba, which has been considerable, would show an even smaller role played by the Soviet Union in Third World trade. In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union sought arrangements that would allow it to maintain a level of trade that minimized the loss of hard currency.

Data as of May 1989