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traffic in goods. Conducted by gift, barter, or sale, trade is one of the most widespread of all social institutions.

Early Trade

The discovery of nonlocal objects at many archaeological sites strongly suggests that trade existed in prehistoric times. Anthropologists and other explorers have found trade institutions among diverse peoples throughout the world. The ceremonially elaborate kula trade ring of the Trobriand Islands, the gift-giving potlatch of W Canada's KwakiutlKwakiutl
, group of closely related Native North Americans who inhabit N Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland of British Columbia, Canada. They, together with the Nootka, their southern neighbors, make up the Wakashan branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see
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, and the desert caravan of N Africa and the Arabian peninsula are among the more famous examples. In the Western world a number of peoples, including the Egyptians, Sumerians, Cretans, Phoenicians, and Greeks, at one time or another dominated trade. Ancient trade networks could be extensive; Egyptian beads have been excavated in Denmark from graves that date to c.1400 B.C. The Crusades did much to widen European trade horizons and prefaced the passing of trade superiority from Constantinople to Venice and other cities of N Italy.

The Commercial and Industrial Revolutions

In the 15th and 16th cent., with the sudden expansion of Portuguese and Spanish holdings, the so-called commercial revolution reached a high point. In N and central Europe, the earlier supremacy of the Hanseatic League, the Rhenish cities, and the cities of N France and Flanders was eclipsed by the rise of national states. Antwerp began its long career of glory when the Spanish were losing their hegemony, and the Dutch briefly triumphed in the race for world commerce in the 17th cent. The Dutch in turn lost to British-French rivalry, which by 1815 left Britain paramount. The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th cents. considerably aided the development of commerce. The expansion of trade was further promoted by the rise, under the auspices of the national state, of the chartered companychartered companies,
associations for foreign trade, exploration, and colonization that came into existence with the formation of the European nation states and their overseas expansion. An association received its charter from the state and sometimes had state support.
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 and by the modern corporation, which later displaced it.

World commerce was also aided materially by the invention of the astrolabe, the mariner's compass, and the sextant; by the development of iron and steel construction; by the application of steam to both land and water transport; and more recently by national road networks and the accompanying growth of the trucking industry. The development of communication devices such as the telephone, telegraph, cable, radio, and satellite data transmission systems and inventions such as refrigeration, the gasoline engine, the electric motor, the airplane, and the computer have also contributed to the growth of trade.

Modern Trade

The theory of commerce as imposed by the national state has varied from the mercantilismmercantilism
, economic system of the major trading nations during the 16th, 17th, and 18th cent., based on the premise that national wealth and power were best served by increasing exports and collecting precious metals in return.
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 of the 17th and 18th cents. and the protective tariff of the 19th and 20th cents. to the free tradefree trade,
in modern usage, trade or commerce carried on without such restrictions as import duties, export bounties, domestic production subsidies, trade quotas, or import licenses.
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 that Britain long upheld. Since World War II a realization of the need for commercial expansion has led to the creation of regional trade zones, the prime example being that of the European UnionEuropean Union
(EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the European Community (EC), an economic and political confederation of European nations, and other organizations (with the same member nations)
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. A trade agreement among the United States, Canada, and Mexico, called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), was signed in 1992, MercosurMercosur
or Mercosul,
officially the Common Market of the South, Latin American trade organization established in 1991 to increase economic cooperation among the countries of E South America.
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 was established in South America in 1991, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which includes the United States and the Dominican Republic, was signed in 2003–4. Although 34 nations committed themselves in 2001 to the development of a free trade area encompassing the Western Hemisphere progressed toward that goal has been hindered by strained relations between the United States and some Latin American nations. Other trade agreements have been signed by regional groupings of Asian and African nations, such as that involving the Association of Southeast Asian NationsAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN), organization established by the Bangkok Declaration (1967), linking the nations of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
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, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed by 12 Pacific Rim nations. Less geographically restricted trade systems, such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and TradeGeneral Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
(GATT), former specialized agency of the United Nations. It was established in 1948 as an interim measure pending the creation of the International Trade Organization.
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 and its successor, the World Trade OrganizationWorld Trade Organization
(WTO), international organization established in 1995 as a result of the final round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations, called the Uruguay Round.
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, have also arisen.

In modern times international trade has had an important political role. Nations often use trade either to solidify old political relationships or to create new ones. The principles of efficient marketingmarketing,
in economics, that part of the process of production and exchange that is concerned with the flow of goods and services from producer to consumer. In popular usage it is defined as the distribution and sale of goods, distribution
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 have been applied to domestic and international trade in the industrialized countries, which has attained enormous volume. Today the world's major trading powers include the United States, the countries of the European Union (especially those in Western Europe), Japan, China, and South Korea.


See C. Day, A History of Commerce (1983); B. R. Harazi, International Trade: Theoretical Issues (1986); J. N. Bhagwati, ed., International Trade (2d ed. 1987); R. E. Baldwin, Trade Policy in a Changing World Economy (1989).



that branch of the national economy concerned with the circulation of commodities, that is, the movement of commodities from the sphere of production to the sphere of consumption. The importation of commodities from other countries and the exportation of commodities to those countries is called foreign trade; trade between various countries in the aggregate is known as international trade. Within a country, trade performs the socially necessary function of conveying commodities to the consumer (seeDOMESTIC TRADE). It is subdivided into wholesale trade and retail trade. The nature and role of trade are determined by the prevailing mode of production.

Origin and development. Trade arose with the social division of labor and the development of commodity-money relations during the breakup of the primitive communal system. In slaveholding and feudal societies, where a natural economy was the rule, foreign trade predominated; only a small portion of commodity output was involved, and the trade catered mainly to the ruling classes. With the decline of feudalism, foreign trade, combined with the emergence of the world market, furthered the growth of commodity production. In Europe, trade grew at a particularly rapid pace during the period of developed feudalism (11th—15th centuries). A decisive role in international trade was played by the merchants of the major trading cities. Also important was armed robbery, which intensified during the period of the primitive accumulation of capital. The discovery of America and of a sea route to India greatly stimulated international trade. With the great geographical discoveries, the trading companies of Western Europe gained unlimited possibilities for colonial plunder. The slave trade flourished.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, domestic trade, relying on commodity production and the formation of internal markets, developed everywhere in Europe. The trade was concentrated for the most part in the hands of the merchantry, who controlled all the wholesale trade and part of the retail trade. Most of the retail trade during the early period of capitalism was in the hands of the people (peasants and artisans) who produced the commodities. Part of the merchantry was involved in both foreign and domestic trade. The vigorous development of trade during this period facilitated the rise of capitalism.

Under capitalism. The role and importance of trade under capitalism changed in comparison with its role in precapitalist formations. In slaveholding and feudal societies, merchant capital emerged as an intermediary between the producer and the consumer. Under industrial capitalism, commercial capital became a separate part of industrial capital; functioning in the sphere of circulation, its task is to realize the value and surplus value—the source of commercial profit. In the process of capitalist reproduction, the role of trade is to ensure continuity in the reproduction of social capital, inasmuch as through the circulation of commercial capital both the realization of newly produced value and the final conversion of commodity capital into money capital occur. The volume and economic importance of domestic trade, as well as the type of trading methods employed, depend on the level of development of capitalism.

During the first half of the 19th century, retail stores handling only certain types of goods, for example, groceries, fabrics, and chandleries, became common in Western Europe and the United States. There were also many trade fairs. With the industrial revolution, mass-produced goods appeared in the markets of Western Europe, thereby ruining small-scale commodity producers. The growth of cities and improvements in transportation favored an increase in the number of retail stores and in the commodity turnover of the stores.

At the turn of the 20th century, when the free market gave way to monopolistic capitalism, fundamental changes occurred in domestic trade. The growth of industrial employment, the increase in labor productivity, and the mass-lot production of standardized goods led to new types of trading productivity, and the production of standardized goods led to new types of trading enterprises and to a change in the methods of trade. Just as in industry, there occurred a concentration and centralization of capital. Scientific and technological progress in the developed capitalist countries hastened this process and strengthened trading monopolies and large trading firms and concerns, which traded both in domestic and in foreign markets. The trading and industrial monopolies crowded out the small- and medium-scale traders. With their competitiveness improving, they seized key positions in the consumer-goods market, making extensive use of new and more efficient trading practices. The growing concentration of commercial capital and the entrance of industrial monopolies into the trading sphere, as well as the reverse tendency—the acquisition by large trading monopolies of control over production by purchasing shares and absorbing industrial companies—all weakened the position of small-scale wholesale trade, which increasingly became the province of large-scale trading firms. Thus, in the United States in the late 1960’s, large trading enterprises accounted for 67 percent of the wholesale trade; in Great Britain the figure was 53 percent.

Retail trade in capitalist countries is conducted for the most part by chain stores, department stores, and specialized stores. Chain stores date from the mid-19th century, when the German sewing-machine firm of Singer opened its first specialized store in the United States. Similar stores were opened in Great Britain, and by 1877 the firm had 160 stores in that country; by the turn of the century the number had risen to approximately 400. Today, a firm is said to operate a chain of stores if it has at least ten retail outlets. This form of marketing is particularly well developed for foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, footwear, and clothing.

The turnover of goods in chain stores constitutes an ever rising proportion of total retail turnover. In the United States, the proportion rose from 23 to 30 percent during the years 1954–74, and in Great Britain it grew from 29 to 39.9 percent during the period 1961–71. As of the mid-1970’s, the largest systems of chain stores in the United States were those of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (5,000 stores), Safeway Stores Inc. (more than 2,000), and Kroger Company (more than 2,000); the largest chains in Great Britain were Great Universal Stores (2,800 stores), Boots the Chemists Ltd. (1,600), and Allied Suppliers (3,500).

Trade involving a variety of goods is carried out for the most part by department stores, which experienced rapid growth after their appearance in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most department stores grew out of older, specialized stores dealing in fabrics and ready-made clothing. Fixed-price stores, which date from the late 19th century, represent a type of department store. Here, small, inexpensive goods were sold at a single price or at one of two prices. In the United States the stores were known as five-and-tens, and in Great Britain they were called penny stores. All Western European countries had such stores. The rapid growth of commodity turnover allowed the stores to increase the variety of goods offered, and in time they became department stores. As of the mid-1970’s the largest firms in the United States operating fixed-price stores were the F. W. Woolworth Company and the S. S. Kresge Company, each of which had a volume of sales exceeding $1 billion. In Great Britain, the largest firms were Woolworth (subsidiary of the American firm) and Marks and Spencer (volumes exceeding £300 million), and in France the largest firm was Prisunic (more than 3 billion francs). Wide varieties of goods are also marketed through mail-order houses.

Trade in nonfood items is highly specialized in developed capitalist countries. As of the mid-1970’s, stores dealing in large varieties of merchandise accounted for an average of 10 percent of the turnover of nonfood items. Discount stores have become widespread. In the United States, discount stores first appeared in the late 1940’s, and by the 1960’s they accounted for one-third of the turnover of all goods sold in department and variety stores. In Western Europe, stores of this type first appeared in the 1960’s, which was also the time of the first shopping centers. Sales on credit figure prominently in trade. Cooperative marketing, carried out by consumers’ cooperatives, is well developed in Western Europe, especially in Great Britain, France, and Sweden. Advertising is an important part of trade.

Self-service stores and supermarkets are the norm for foodstuffs. Self-service in establishments of this type is facilitated by vending machines. A considerable proportion of the retail turnover of food items derives from such public eating places as cafeterias, cafés, and snack bars. Despite the considerable concentration of trade, an extensive network of small-scale enterprises still exists under capitalism.

As of the mid-1970’s, a considerable part of the labor force in the developed capitalist countries was employed in trade. In the United States, more than 20 percent of the gainfully employed population worked in trade; in France the figure was 16 percent, and in Great Britain it was 12 percent.

In the domestic trade of most developing countries, large aggregations of capital, both foreign and domestic, predominate. At the same time, these countries typically have a large number of small-scale trading enterprises. In the mid-1970’s, India had more than 4 million small-scale traders, but they were totally dependent on the large aggregations of capital of national wholesale and retail companies. Foreign capital is firmly entrenched in the domestic trade of Latin American and African countries. In a number of countries following a course of independent development, major trading enterprises have been nationalized, thereby strengthening the state sector in domestic trade. Thus, in Algeria the state sector in the early 1970’s contributed 20 percent of total retail turnover; efforts have been made to create experimental socialist stores, and steps are being taken to limit private trade. In Iraq, a state company functions as an intermediary in domestic trade by using small-scale retail traders, who sell imported goods and goods produced by the state sector at fixed prices that ensure a profit. In Sri Lanka, a state organization was set up in 1971 to take charge of wholesale trade as it pertains to the main consumer goods. Another state organization, the Tea Propaganda Board, has been granted a monopoly on the purchase and sale of tea in the domestic market. Cooperatives that both supply and consume goods play an important role. In foreign trade, economic ties with the socialist countries have been strengthened on the basis of equality and mutual advantage; this consolidation has weakened the influence of foreign capital on the economies and the trade of developing countries.

In prerevolutionary Russia. Trade began its development in Russia in the eighth and ninth centuries. The center of the medieval Russian city was the marketplace. The appearance of commodity-money relations in ninth-century Kievan Rus’ hastened the development of trade. Domestic trade was carried on most frequently by the producers themselves, that is, without intermediaries, while foreign trade was conducted by merchants. From the 12th to the 14th century, during the period of feudal fragmentation, trade was limited in scope to the individual principalities; however, trade ties did exist between the principalities on the basis of a mere geographical division of labor. Novgorod was a major commercial center, trading with Western Europe, especially the cities of the Hanseatic League. Moscow emerged as a center of trade in northeastern Rus’ in the second half of the 14th century. Trade between the principalities was important in the formation of the centralized Russian state in the 15th and 16th centuries. Many social groups, for example, artisans, peasants, sluzhilye liudi (military service class), dvoriane (nobility or gentry), and boyars, as well as the country’s monasteries, were involved in domestic trade. In the cities, goods were brought to the marketplace on a daily rather than weekly basis. Gostinye dvory, places in cities where merchants stored their goods and carried on trade, made their appearance. The itinerant trade practiced by the buyer-up, the prasol (merchant buying fish or meat wholesale in the villages for sale elsewhere), and the pedlar developed in various forms. Nevertheless, vestiges of feudal fragmentation, combined with numerous internal customs duties, retarded the development of domestic trade.

The 17th century saw the beginning of the concentration of “small local markets into a single, all-Russian market” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 1, p. 154). Moscow was the nucleus of this market. Wholesale and retail trade were conducted at trade fairs. Customs duties and taxes levied on trade were collected by the Prikaz Bol’shoi Kazny (Central Financial Office). The Commercial Statute of 1653 facilitated the development of trade. Trading companies made their appearance in the second half of the 17th century. Trade ties with India were expanded, as were those with China, in accordance with the Nerchinsk Treaty of 1689. During the 17th century, the Russian government pursued a policy of mercantilism and limited the trade of foreign merchants in Russia.

The reforms carried out by the government of Peter I the Great in the first quarter of the 18th century brought about a considerable development of trade. The Commerce Collegium, a state institution overseeing trade, was created. Russia began to export iron, sailcloth, and grain. The customs reforms carried out during the years 1753–57 eliminated internal customs duties, thereby favoring the growth of a national market. During the second half of the 18th century, the first stores attached to merchants’ houses appeared in Moscow. In 1797 permission was granted to set up shops in apartment houses.

During the 18th century, trade developed on protectionist principles. High import duties protected the domestic market. From 1802 to 1810 trade was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Commerce; beginning in 1810 it came under the Ministry of Finance. During the second half of the 19th century, the volume of trade sharply increased. The growth of the urban population and of the working class led to an expansion of the domestic market’s capacity. In 1885 the sales volume of domestic trade totaled approximately 5 billion rubles; in 1900 it exceeded 11 billion rubles. Cooperative trade first appeared in the second half of the 19th century.

The late 19th century witnessed the formation of joint-stock trading associations and exchanges for wholesale trade. In 1885 there were more than 700,000 trading establishments, and in 1900 the number approximated 1.5 million. According to the 1897 census, 1.6 million persons were engaged in trade. Between 1861 and 1900, the turnover of foreign trade increased nearly fourfold, and customs revenues grew fivefold. The government’s protectionist policy enriched the big merchant capitalists and raised domestic prices.

At the turn of the 20th century, Russia’s accession to the stage of imperialism brought about a further growth in trade and in the concentration of trade in the hands of monopolists. Trade fairs declined in importance, with goods being marketed to an increasing extent in stores. The role played by banks increased. From 1900 to 1913, commodity turnover in domestic trade increased by 60 percent, reaching 18.5 billion rubles. In 1912, cities accounted for 72.5 percent of the domestic commodity turnover. During the period 1900–13, turnover from foreign trade more than doubled. The Ministry of Trade and Industry was established in 1905. World War I brought profiteering, a cutback in the production of consumer goods, and a rise in prices. The tsarist government attempted to ration certain products. A food crisis arose. After the October Revolution, the Soviet government established a new, socialist system of trade.

Under socialism. The existence of commodity-money relations in a socialist society necessitates trade, which, forming a part of socialist production relations, is based on the supremacy of public ownership. Trade is characterized by principles deriving from the economic laws of socialism. V. I. Lenin considered trade both an extremely important link in the development of a socialist economy’s transitional forms and a necessary form for economic ties under socialism.

In the USSR, the Communist Party and the Soviet government have devoted a great deal of attention from the earliest years of Soviet power to improving trade and using all means available to develop trade. Along with nationalization, a state monopoly on trade as it pertained to the most important consumer goods was instituted in 1918. These measures undermined the economic position of capitalist elements, aided in the struggle against speculation and profiteering, and created conditions necessary for improving the delivery of goods to working people. To bring about centralization in the supply of commodities to the population and organization in the procurement of agricultural products, the People’s Commissariat of Food was created in November 1917, followed in 1924 by the People’s Commissariat of Internal Trade; the latter was reorganized in 1946 as the Ministry of Trade of the USSR. With the onset of the Civil War and the military intervention (1918–20), centralized distribution of consumer goods was established. Private trade was prohibited. In January 1919, the surplus appropriation system was introduced. With the transition to the New Economic Policy, this system was replaced by the tax in kind. Having begun with commodity exchange within the framework of local economic turnover, the state made the transition to organizing trade on a scale encompassing the entire national economy. As socialist forms in the country’s economy became more firmly entrenched and state and cooperative trade became more developed, private middlemen were crowded out of wholesale and retail trade.

In order to market the output of large-scale socialized industry, sectoral syndicates and other state wholesale organizations were created. Commodity exchanges and trade fairs played an important role. Retail trade was primarily in the hands of consumers’ cooperatives. State trade was represented by a modest network of shops and other organizations. The gradual consolidation of the position of socialized trade allowed a transition as early as 1925 and 1926 to a system whereby the more important consumer goods were delivered to the country’s principal economic regions on a planned basis. It also became possible in these years to strengthen the role of planning in all market relationships. By 1937 all retail commodity turnover was being conducted by the socialized sector.

With the building of a socialist society (mid-1930’s), planning figured to an increasing extent in all market ties, and the conditions arose for a planned organization of trade. A system of wholesale industrial supply bases was created, and the network encompassing state and cooperative trade, the food service industry, and kolkhoz trade steadily widened. During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the internal system of socialist trade provided supplies to the population and the Soviet Army on a regular and stable basis. The state system of rationing provided for the needs of nearly 77 million persons. Despite the enormous difficulties caused by the war, the system of rations (introduced 1941) was abolished as early as the end of 1947, and a transition to open trade was made. By 1950 the prewar level of retail trade had been surpassed, and the trade network had been restored. In 1945 the volume of retail trade constituted 45 percent of the 1940 level; by 1950 it was 110 percent. In succeeding years, high rates of growth in domestic trade were sustained. Thus, in 1974 the volume of retail trade exceeded that for 1940 by a factor of 8.2; during the ninth five-year plan (1971–75) alone, the volume of retail trade increased by 36 percent. Domestic trade became one of the most important branches of the national economy. As of 1975, the circulating productive capital consumed in trade constituted 22 percent of the economy’s total.

The three forms of domestic trade created during the course of development of a socialist economy are state trade, cooperative trade, and kolkhoz trade. State trade, the leading form, serves mainly the urban population, while cooperative trade serves mainly the rural population. Consumers’ cooperatives are also involved in consignment marketing. State and cooperative trade jointly form the organized market of the country, at which prices are fixed directly by the state. State trade accounts for 69 percent of the total retail volume, and cooperative trade, approximately 29 percent. Kolkhoz trade comprises the sale by kolkhozes and kolkhoz members of surplus farm produce in the market. This type of trade is not subject to state planning; prices are arrived at through supply and demand, and there are no middlemen. The producers, for the most part kolkhozes and kolkhoz members, sell that portion of their produce not covered by contract for sale to the state directly to the population (primarily urban) at kolkhoz markets. In 1975 kolkhoz markets accounted for 2 percent of total commodity turnover.

The ratios between the various forms of trade in consumer goods reveal a definite trend. State trade is growing; that of the kolkhoz market is diminishing; and the share of cooperative trade in the total volume of trade is stable. The development of trade and the improvement of services to the population are inextricably tied to the creation of a material and technical basis for trade, to the introduction of improved types of merchandising equipment and technological processes, and to the further improvement of marketing methods. The network of specalized stores is expanding. Large self-service department stores are being built for the sale of commodities of everyday use. Large, modern warehouses and refrigerated storage facilities are being created, as are fruit and vegetable storehouses and combines.

Technological progress in trade accelerated in response to the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and Council of Ministers of the USSR of Jan. 7, 1972, “On Certain Measures for the Improvement of Trade and Its Technical Equipment.” The mechanization and automation of trade processes have undergone considerable development. The introduction of progressive marketing methods guarantees an increase in the economic efficiency of enterprises and an improvement in the quality of services to the public. These methods include self-service, vending machines, home delivery, selling by samples, and sales through individual orders. As of early 1975, the commodity turnover of stores in the country’s state and cooperative trade employing progressive marketing techniques was 55 percent of the total; within this figure, self-service sales amounted to 47 percent. The number of persons employed in retail trade and the food service industry in 1973 was 6.4 million, or 6.6 percent of the working population; of this number, 4.7 million persons were employed in state trade.

Trade in the other socialist countries during the period of formation of people’s democracy was for the most part in private hands. Cooperatives had a comparatively weak material and technical basis, and there were few workers skilled in trading. The communist and workers’ parties and governments of these countries were consistent and unyielding in their desire for a dominant position in state and cooperative trade and for the gradual expulsion of private traders. Cooperative trade benefited from thoroughgoing state aid, which made rapid development of trade possible in the cities and villages. In the early stages, state trade comprised the marketing of the output of nationalized industry and a considerable share of wholesale trade. In 1946 and 1947, approximately four-fifths of the wholesale trade was carried out by the public sector.

The socioeconomic changes in the national economies of the Eastern European countries that occurred during the late 1940’s and the 1950’s, together with the countries’ intensive development along the socialist path, foreordained the need to restructure the entire sphere of commodity circulation. The expansion of state and cooperative trade substantially limited the volume of private trade. Cooperatives were included within the system of state planning. Guided by the experience of the USSR, the other socialist countries resolved the question of “Who will win?” in the field of trade using economic levers that limited private trade and ensured the expansion of socialized trade. Thus, as early as 1960 private trade’s share in the total volume of retail trade was 0.1 percent in Bulgaria, 1.2 percent in Hungary, 2.7 percent in Poland, and 0.1 percent in Rumania; only in the German Democratic Republic was the share of private trade still at the level of 22.7 percent.

By the mid-1970’s, domestic trade in almost all the socialist countries was being carried out solely by state and cooperative enterprises and organizations. The small amount of private trade in Bulgaria (0.1 percent), Hungary (0.8 percent), and Poland (0.9 percent) was accounted for by artisans and craftsmen selling items of their own production and by owners of small-scale eating facilities. Their activities do not exert any significant influence on the development of trade in these countries. The proportion of private trade in the German Democratic Republic is being reduced; as of the mid-1970’s it constituted 15 percent of total retail trade.

The domestic trade of the other socialist countries has been characterized by the very principles seen in the development of trade in the USSR, namely a steady growth rate in retail trade, structural changes in retail trade that are progressive in nature, intensive development of the material and technical basis for trade, and improvements in marketing methods. Thus, during the period 1960–74 the volume of retail trade increased by factors of three in the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, 2.6 in the Hungarian People’s Republic, 1.7 in the German Democratic Republic, two in the Mongolian People’s Republic, 2.7 in the Polish People’s Republic, 2.9 in Rumania, and 2.3 in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. The average annual growth rates for commodity turnover during this same period were approximately 6 percent in Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, and Czechoslovakia, 7.5 percent in Rumania, 8.5 percent in Bulgaria, and 11–12 percent in Poland.

Large, modern, self-service stores offering items of everyday use have become common. Examples are seen in such stores as the Kaufhalle in the German Democratic Republic, the ABC store in Hungary, and the Supersam stores in Poland. Along with stores, a network of public eating facilities, such as restaurants and cafés, has developed. Particular attention is being paid to eating facilities at industrial enterprises and educational institutions. Socialist countries assist one another in matters of domestic trade within the framework of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON).

The foreign trade of the socialist countries is conducted by the state, which enjoys a monopoly in this sphere.

The growing role of international trade as one of the most important factors of economic growth and social progress was noted at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki, 1975). International trade and cooperation are furthered through the inclusion of most-favored-nation clauses in bilateral and multilateral treaties and other agreements. International trade plays an important role in detente and in strengthening the principle of peaceful coexistence between countries with differing socioeconomic systems.


Lenin, V. I. “Po povodu tak nazyvaemogo voprosa o rynkakh.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 1.
Lenin, V. I. Razvitie kapitalizma v Rossii. Ibid., vol. 3.
Lenin, V. I. “Groziashchaia katastrofa i kak s nei borot’sia.” Ibid., vol. 34.
Kulisher, I. M. Ocherk istorii russkoi torgovli. Petrograd, 1923.
Liashchenko, P. I. Istoriia narodnogo khoziaistva SSSR, vols. 1–2, 4th ed. Moscow, 1956.
Dikhtiar, G. A. Vnutrenniaia torgovlia v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii. Moscow, 1960.



1. A person’s occupation or craft, usually involving manual skill.
2. In building construction, the classifications of work, such as masonry, carpentry, plastering, etc.


1. the act or an instance of buying and selling goods and services either on the domestic (wholesale and retail) markets or on the international (import, export, and entrepôt) markets
2. a personal occupation, esp a craft requiring skill
3. the people and practices of an industry, craft, or business
4. the regular clientele of a firm or industry
5. amount of custom or commercial dealings; business
6. a specified market or business
7. an occupation in commerce, as opposed to a profession
8. commercial customers, as opposed to the general public