Soviet Union Table of Contents
The countries of socialist orientation can be categorized into two groups: those that had observer status in Comecon and those that were not observers but had privileged affiliations with Comecon member countries (see table 51, Appendix A). The Soviet Union's trade with the Third World has always been heavily skewed toward countries of socialist orientation. Soviet aid provided most of the foreign capital for these countries and influenced their domestic economic development significantly. The Soviet Union often profited more politically than economically from this trade: most Soviet surpluses were not repaid but became clearing credit, longterm cooperation credit, or short-term commercial credit.
In 1986 the countries that had observer status in Comecon were Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and South Yemen. These countries were all characterized by political instability, low GNP, and low export potential. The share of exports to this group rose from 14 percent of total Soviet identified exports to the Third World in 1980 to 28 percent in the first nine months of 1986. Afghanistan, a recipient of Soviet machinery and military equipment, was the Soviet Union's most significant partner in this group. By contrast, trade with Mozambique and South Yemen was negligible.
Countries that had privileged affiliations with Comecon countries were Algeria, Benin, Burma, Congo, Guinea (until 1984), Iraq, Madagascar, Nicaragua (1979-85), Nigeria, Syria, and Tanzania and, at times, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Seychelles, and Zimbabwe. Throughout the 1980s, Soviet exports to these countries oscillated, for example, from 27 percent in 1981 to 15 percent in 1983. This fluctuation, as well as fluctuations in imports, was primarily a result of changes in trade with Iraq, a major Soviet arms-for-oil trading partner in the Third World.
Data as of May 1989