The Economic History of Eastern Europe, 1919-1975 - Vol. 1

By M. C. Kaser; E. A. Radice | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
Foreign Trade Performance and Policy

Z. DRABEK


TRADE BEFORE THE FIRST WORLD WAR

The examination of trade performance in east Europe starts with an inter-country comparison of the level of trade after the War.1 The economic significance of the level of trade is through the trade intensities which determine the dependence of domestic growth on trade, but in this case the redrawing of frontiers under the Peace Treaties altered the economic significance of trade in each country. Under the extraordinary circumstances of the immediate postwar years trade was influenced, first, by the effects of the War and of the collapse of the Dual Monarchy, and secondly by secular factors of trade growth. The latter should determine the portion of respective trade levels inherited from the prewar period, and this is examined first. The former would then represent entirely the effects of the postwar settlements.

The prewar trade of the area was that of the Dual Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, of the small independent countries in the Balkans, i.e. Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, and, in the north, of the Kingdom of Poland, politically and economically attached to Russia; each is dealt with separately. No account is taken of trade generated by other areas of the region which until 1913 or 1918 were within the German, Russian and Turkish Empires.

In 1913, the foreign-trade turnover per capita of the Dual Monarchy was about one-eighth that of the United Kingdom, one-quarter that of Germany and France, and also below the level of other major industrial countries. Trade turnover per capita of Bulgaria (see Table 7.1) was only half that of the Dual Monarchy. On the other hand, the trade intensity of Romania was relatively high, being almost twice as high as that of the Dual Monarchy, while the unequal distribution of income among different parts of the Dual Monarchy determined their participation in foreign trade. Here, however, returns for external trade do not properly represent the actual domestic activity which functioned inside

____________________
1
The analysis is based, unless otherwise stated, on the trade matrices in the Appendix to this chapter. The extent of territorial changes during the period surveyed may be perceived from Maps 1 and 2 ( 1914 and 1923 respectively) in this volume and Maps 3 and 4 ( 1943 and 1946) in volume II.

-379-

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