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East-West trade and the regional development of Siberia and the Soviet Far East Bradshaw, Michael Joseph


Studies of the role of East-West trade in Soviet economic development often assume that Siberia and the Far East play an important role in trading relations, but few studies have examined the extent of that role and the relationship between trade and economic development within the region. This study addresses two interrelated questions: firstly, what is the role of Siberia and the Far East in trade with the West, and secondly, what is the role of East-West trade in Siberian development. Regional trade participation data are not available. The study therefore examines the composition of Soviet trade with the West and the industrial structure of the Siberian economy, in order to deduce the extent of regional participation in trade. Soviet exports to the West are dominated by natural resources, while imports from the West comprise machinery and equipment, manufactured goods and agricultural products. Analysis of the Siberian economy reveals a specialisation in the production and processing of natural resources. Estimates of export participation show that since the late 1970s the region has become the Soviet Union's most important source of foreign currency. Imports of Western technology are shown to play an important part in natural resource production and in the creation of Siberia's Territorial-Production Complexes. In many instances compensation agreements tie the use of imports to export production. Overall the value of Siberian exports exceeds the cost of imports of Western technology, so that the region generates a sizeable foreign currency surplus. In conclusion, a simple model of the trade and development process is presented which relates the pattern of foreign trade participation to the process of regional development. The impact of Western imports is felt mainly in the European core region where they provide additional resources to feed the population and renovate the industrial base; the impact of exports to the West is felt mainly in Siberia and the Far East where they increase demands for natural resource production. Thus, East-West trade serves to perpetuate the existing core-periphery pattern of Soviet regional development.

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