• W. H. Parker


Table 12.1 shows that American foreign trade by value is several times larger than Russian, bearing in mind the near equivalence in the official values of the dollar and the rouble (one rouble = $1.11). Complete figures for trade by weight are available only for seaborne commerce. This amounted to 457 million metric tons for America in 1968 as against 113 million tons for Russia. The large difference is not surprising: the United States has always been a leading participant in world commerce, whereas throughout the Soviet period Russia has pursued a policy of economic autarky, concentrating on the development of her own resources and relying as little as possible on the outside world. It is yet one more facet of the contrast between the global position of America as a maritime power, with easy access by several coasts to many seas and oceans, and that of Russia, so enclosed and isolated within the world island that she cannot depend upon overseas trade without jeopardising her independence. Because her way to the oceans is by landlocked, foreign-controlled seas, Russia can be easily blockaded and thus embarrassed in time of war or international tension. Such a blockade was decisive in the 1914–17 war with Germany and critical in that of 1941–5.


Industrial Equipment Capitalist World American Trade Foreign Import United States Trade 
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  1. 18.
    For a development of this point, see P. Hanson, ‘The Soviet Union and world shipping’ in Soviet Studies, XXII (July 1970) 44–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 22.
    H. Schwartz, The Soviet Economy Since Stalin (London, 1965) pp. 218–32.Google Scholar

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© W. H. Parker 1972

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