The Communist Foreign Trade System

The Communist Foreign Trade System

The Communist Foreign Trade System

The Communist Foreign Trade System

Excerpt

Academic research on the Communist Bloc presents some particular difficulties which, in light of my six-month imprisonment in East Berlin, deserve some comment.

Securing sufficient information to form a balanced picture of any aspect of Communist economies takes a good deal of time and patience. As I discuss in the text, information has been scanty and highly selective. Moreover, even serious Communist discussion on foreign trade issues has been, for the most part, marked by tendentious justifications of government policy, vacuous name-calling and imputation of motives, or assertions of spectacular growth and efficiency, substantiated by reference to the growing Socialist consciousness of the citizentry. Even a large number of academic articles on technical trade topics have been marked by a low degree of rigour and a surprisingly high degree of ignorance. Although the situation is now slowly changing, reading of the Bloc economic press is usually tedious and unrewarding.

At this point several alternatives are open to the Western economist. He can, for instance, analyse Communist foreign trade in the same way as Communist economists analyse ours. This would include such tricks as deliberate lies (e.g. the Bloc economist who claimed that US grants to underdeveloped countries were 'really' loans whose repayment dates had not been established); imputation of motives (e.g. the East German Assistant Foreign Trade Minister who recently asserted that the Communist Council of Mutual Economic Assistance was founded to promote peace while the European Economic Community was founded by the monopolists to unleash World War III); figures quoted out of context; and so forth. On the other hand, the Western economist can try to transcend this nonsense and employ standard research methods and statistical techniques in order to gain an accurate and objective view of the situation and to eliminate as much as possible any sources of political bias.

In carrying out this study I thought it important not only to thoroughly review the East Bloc economic literature on foreign trade but also to hold interviews with foreign trade experts in both East and West. In this way I could not only obtain more information but could also hear all sides of the various issues which I was trying to judge. Complete objectivity may be impossible; if there is bias in this study, however, it is in no way deliberate since I have taken all possible measures to avoid it.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.