The enigma of Soviet society is nowhere more strikingly manifested than in its economic relations with the outside world. Western business people, even those with representative offices in Moscow, often describe their negotiations with the Soviets as a veritable black-box affair. Offers for purchase and sale are funneled into the bureaucracy, usually via the Ministry of Foreign Trade, where they are digested for very long periods of time. When a response emerges, little is usually known about the level at which decisions were made, and even less is known about the criteria that were employed to make them. In the abstract, at least, foreign trade decision making in the Western market economies is a rather simple exercise. An American consumer will purchase a Toyota rather than a comparable Chrysler if its price, expressed in dollars at the market exchange rate, is lower. The influences of governmental tariffs, quantitative restrictions, foreign exchange controls, "buy American" policies, and the like, are usually of only secondary importance. In contrast, the Soviet consumer, whether an individual or an industrial enterprise, does not generally have the authority to order the importation of goods or services. That authority is concentrated at the top of Soviet society and administered through a labyrinthine system of overlapping bureaucratic agencies. Furthermore, those Soviet agencies cannot respond to price signals in the same way as the American consumer can, because Soviet domestic prices and exchange rates are themselves set rather arbitrarily by governmental agencies.
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
Number of pages: 189
Weight: 1040 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 12 mm
Edition: 1983 ed.