Trade of the Soviet Union

By Ronald Chan

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Basic Information

Official name: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (abbreviation: USSR)

Formed: 1922

Dissolved: 1991

Form of government: Marxist-Leninist single-party union

Population: Lowest at 137,727,000 (January 1920), peak at 293,047,571 (July 1991)

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The Soviet Ruble is the official currency of the Soviet Union, with the 1/100 subunit of each ruble being 1 kopek. The height of the Soviet ruble's exchange rate was at 5.3 rubles per USD (1937 to 1950), the lowest point of the Soviet ruble's exchange rate was at 0.5450 rubles per USD (1991).

Soviet Exports

In the early decades after the Soviet Union was established, the principal Soviet exports are grain products, oil products, furs, timber, dairy products, manganese ore, oil cake and flax and tow. Industrial exports increased from 32.4 per cent of the total in 1926-27 to 42.5 per cent in 1927-28. Grain exports decreased nearly 80 per cent, while other exports increased by one-third.

After the end of the Second World War in 1945, the Soviet Union has become a fully developed nation and superpower, exports start to emphasize more on manufactured industrial goods than agriculture. Many other socialist countries have been established around the world (most of whom joined the COMECON, an international economic alliance between socialist states), and to most of those countries, exports from the Soviet Union emphasized the most on oil, as COMECON prices for Soviet oil were lower than world oil prices (especially during the 1970's and 80's). By 1985 weapons exports to third-world countries amounted to over 50%.

Soviet Imports

In the early decades of after the Soviet Union's establishment, the principal Soviet imports are cotton, industrial machinery, non-ferrous metals, leather, wool, tea, paper and cardboard, woolen yarn and agricultural machinery. Imports of cotton, machinery and metals play a larger comparative role in the general import scheme than they did before the war, and imports of consumption goods have fallen off.

In the post-WWII and Cold War era, the Soviet Union's closest trading partners were the COMECON socialist states. By the time Eastern Europe's industrial base had been rebuilt from the ruins of WWII and further expanded, the Soviet Union imported largely manufactured industrial goods from the socialist states, in return for oil exports from the Soviet Union to the socialist states. By the 1980s, the Soviet Union's imports from third-world countries largely consist of agricultural products, half of them being grain.

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Ordinary Life in the USSR 1961

The Accomplishment of Soviet Trade

Being the largest country in the world with vast natural resources, the Soviet Union has made itself a world power on the global market in the course of 7 decades. It was able to revolutionize itself from being a backward agrarian country whose only export were mere raw crops and had to import most of its cotton and industrial machinery into a fully developed and industrialized nation who can export its finest petroleum and machinery and import consumer other nations' finest goods and resources. Being the first major country in the world to be ruled by the proletariat, what the capitalists states developed for the course of centuries through class exploitation, sweatshop child labor, imperialist conquest, and colonial subjugation, it only took the Soviet Union 7 decades without the exploitation and subjugation of the masses.

Weighing the Benefits of Soviet Trade

Trading with the Soviet Union is a good benefit, as the Soviet Union is willing to sell its natural resources and machines in vast quantities at very low price, and it provides a vast and excellent market for other developed socialist nations to sell their own machines and consumer products, as well as for third-world countries to sell their fine, unique cash crops.

But trading with the Soviet Union does come with drawbacks, exports of the Soviet Union sacrifices a considerable portion of its quality for its quantity; the quality of Soviet large-quantity exports have comparably mediocre quality.

In the end for a country to truly benefit from trading with the Soviet Union, it must import in large quantities from the Soviet Union and be massively sold in low price at its own domestic market. For example, if a country's national armed forces is to import Soviet weaponry, it must be sure that its armed forces must be large in size, and the Soviet weapons imports must be bought in a large quantity to be distributed among its military.


Soviet Union. Soviet Union Information Bureau. The Soviet Union: Facts, Descriptions, Statistics. Washington D.C.: Soviet Union Information Bureau, 1929. Marxists Internet Archive. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

"Soviet Union - Trade With Other Socialist Countries." Country Data. Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, 1989. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

"Soviet Union - The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance." Country Data. Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, 1989. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

"Soviet Union - Balance of Trade." Country Data. Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, 1989. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

"Soviet Union - Composition of Trade." Country Data. Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, 1989. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.