The Making of Détente: Eastern Europe and Western Europe in the Cold War, 1965-75 (Cold War History)
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Richard Feltoe. The Age of Catastrophe. Building Europe Wilfried Loth Inbunden. Ladda ned. Spara som favorit. Laddas ned direkt. Skickas inom vardagar specialorder. Containing essays by leading Cold War scholars, such as Wilfried Loth, Geir Lundestad and Seppo Hentila, this volume offers a broad-ranging examination of the history of detente in the Cold War. And money was no object to the Soviet enterprise: once an input was written into the plan, the funds to pay for it were included, too.
Therefore it is reasonable to suppose — and the Soviet press was full of anecdotal evidence to support this — that bids for foreign inputs to be incorporated in the plan were plentiful. When it came to exports, the opposite applied. You would have to meet, in practice, more stringent quality standards than for domestic deliveries; you would be penalised for failing to meet delivery dates, and — horror of horrors — foreign customers expected after-sales service. It was a common observation in Soviet writings that being given an export contract was seen as a punishment.
The balance of convertible-currency payments exercised a major constraint on the commercial acquisition of technology from the West. Finland was a bilateral-settlement trade partner, so imports of Finnish machinery were constrained separately by the overall levels of transactions that could be balanced between the two countries.
There were also some more subtle ways of making ends meet. A ministry or an enterprise could be told to tie exports to its imports. This could hardly work by mere instruction.
There were limits to these product payback deals, however. Often a Western machinery supplier was not in the business of handling the product from its machinery, and had to bring in a third party to make the transaction stand up — which increased the cost of the deal. Another constraint on the commercial, negotiable acquisition of machinery and licences was the Western strategic embargo, operated by the Coordinating Committee CoCom of NATO member-states less Iceland plus Japan.
The United States also had a national Commodity Control List that was somewhat longer than that by which CoCom was supposed to be guided. Special permission from CoCom was, in principle, required for any sale of such dual-use items to Warsaw Pact or other communist countries. Items on the Industrial List dual-use items were subject to scrutiny and their export might be allowed on a case-by-case basis.
In the British version of the Industrial List ran to 62 closely printed pages, about 40 of which covered electronics, computing and telecommunications. Agendas and minutes were not published. What proportion of Western exports had passed through this process and been approved is unknown. For the United States in the late s it was about 4 per cent but a large share of US exports to the Soviet Union consisted of farm products. In principle, the focus of CoCom restrictions was narrow: only those items that might directly enhance Warsaw Pact military capabilities were to be excluded from trade.
An example of a generally-accepted approval was the advanced machine-tools destined for AvtoVAZ. Apparently, CoCom scrutiny determined that these could indeed be used in the production of cars but could not be adapted for use in the production of tanks.
On occasion it was used to acquire items for other purposes, presumably in the hope that this would be cheaper than buying them. There were not, in my view, many such decisions. Once it was decided to modernise the Soviet chemical industry, opting for technology imports was well-nigh unavoidable. The industry was so far behind that reliance on domestic research, development and innovation would have been a recipe for failure.
This strategic decision produced a strikingly long-lasting priority for chemical technology among overall technology imports, a story to which we will return.
The Making of Détente: Eastern Europe and Western Europe in the Cold War, 1965-75
Stalin had chosen to let peasants starve rather than buy grain from capitalist states. The decision to rely on grain imports after the bad harvest imposed a constraint — given export earnings and the Soviet aversion to borrowing — on the import of machinery. A third strategic decision was taken probably by the Brezhnev—Kosygin leadership, though it may have had its origins under Khrushchev. Soviet commercial purchases of licences unaccompanied by machinery are poorly documented but appear to have been small. In practice it covers sales of individual machines, sales of linked sets of machines and entire plants.
Usually a turnkey project involved a contract between a Soviet foreign trade organisation, on the one hand, and a main contractor, on the other. The former would have worked closely with the relevant Soviet branch ministry and with Gosplan in preparing the deal on the Soviet side. Licences to operate the technologies embodied in the machinery were often part of the deal. From the mids to the late s the volume of machinery imports from the West grew very rapidly, at about 24 per cent a year over the period as a whole see Table 1.
It is therefore plausible that technology imports played an increasing role in the economy.