Socialist Economic Integration

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Socialist Economic Integration


a process consciously and systematically regulated by the communist and workers’ parties and the governments of the member states of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). This process involves the international socialist division of labor, the convergence of the economies of the member states, the formation of modern, high-efficiency economies, the gradual drawing together and evening out of the various levels of economic development of the member countries, the formation of solid and lasting ties in the main branches of the economy and in science and technology, the expansion and strengthening of the international market of the COMECON countries, and the improvement of trade on a monetary basis.

Economic integration is the common policy of the COMECON member states. This policy is reflected in documents of the CPSU and of congresses and plenums held in the 1960’s by communist and workers’ parties of the other socialist countries. It was recorded as a programmatic aim at the 23rd special session of COMECON in April 1969 and at the 24th session in May 1970, as well as in the-Comprehensive Program adopted by the 25th session in July 1971 to implement the decisions made at these sessions. The Comprehensive Program aims at the further extension and improvement of cooperation and at the further development of socialist economic integration among the COMECON member states; it is structured in terms of the concrete historical conditions of the present stage in the construction of socialism and communism. The measures of the program are projected for realization by stages over the next 15–20 years.

The economic integration of the socialist countries has been made the issue of the day by the entire course of development of their economies and politics. On the one hand it is the natural continuation of the results achieved through the economic and scientific-technical cooperation between the socialist countries, and on the other hand it testifies to the new historic stage of their convergence. The new conditions of cooperation are determined by the high economic and scientific potential developed by the socialist countries, the structural changes in the economies of these countries, the possibilities and demands of the scientific-technical revolution, and the intensified need for internationalization in economic life.

Reflected in the realization of socialist economic integration is the tendency that Lenin noted “toward the creation of a single world economy regulated by the proletariat of all nations as an integral whole according to a common plan. This tendency has already revealed itself quite clearly under capitalism and is bound to be further developed and consummated under socialism” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 164).

The objective historical process of continued socialist economic integration is an important factor in the growth of the world socialist system’s economic might and the strengthening of its unity, and it is a significant factor in assuring the ultimate victory of socialism over capitalism.

After World War II, the worldwide tendency toward the internationalization of production and exchange and of economic life in general was intensified particularly sharply. The practical experience of the industrially developed countries shows graphically that the productive forces in the modern world can be developed most efficiently only as international productive forces. This fact is determined by a number of interrelated factors, particularly the intensification of the entire process of social production, the enormously increased scale of production, and the substantial acceleration in the tempo of scientific and technical progress. International economic integration is taking place throughout the entire world economy and is an objective law of social development. At the same time there are differences in principle between socialist integration and capitalist, because the social and economic essence of integration, its goals and methods of realization and its consequences, are determined by the nature of the social system within which integration is accomplished.

Socialist integration is free of the contradictions inherent in this process in the capitalist world. Its character and tendencies are determined by the need for the development of productive forces and the development of socialist relations of production. The superiority of socialist integration is based on the fundamental economic and political interests shared by the socialist countries; integration proceeds from the fact that the interests of these countries as nation-states coincide within the socialist community. Socialist economic integration, which develops on the basis of proletarian internationalism, is directed toward the all-around flourishing of each of the fraternal countries and toward the strengthening of the economic, political, and military power and international authority of the socialist community. The full realization of such integration corresponds to the aims and tasks of the international communist movement and of all progressive forces in modern society. The methods of state management of the integration processes under socialism are based on the implementation of the economic laws of socialism. Socialist integration by its very nature can only be a planned process. The leading role of the communist and workers’ parties is strikingly expressed in the measures taken by the member states of COMECON for the planned development of socialist economic integration. The integration takes place on a totally voluntary basis, unaccompanied by the creation of any supranational agencies.

The socialist countries have entered a stage of development in which the superiority of socialist organization can and must be used to a significantly fuller degree both on the national and the international scale. In the present stage in the building of socialism and communism, when the center of gravity of economic tasks has shifted to the sphere of deep structural changes, the COMECON countries treat the problems of cooperation with ever greater responsibility. In this area, the main thrust is toward heightened efficiency of economic and scientific-technical links, which increases because of economic integration.

The fraternal countries have sharply and clearly defined the aims of socialist integration: an acceleration of the development of the productive forces in all the COMECON countries, the achievement of a higher level of science and technology, and the maximum increase in the economic efficiency of social production. Socialist economic integration has the task of improving the structure and expanding the scale of production and of helping to meet the growing long-term needs of the national economies of the COMECON countries for fuel, energy, and raw materials, as well as for modern equipment and consumer goods. Socialist economic integration is directed toward raising the material and cultural living standards of the peoples of the socialist countries, promoting the gradual convergence and evening out of disparate levels of economic development among the COMECON countries, strengthening socialist defense capacity, and assuring victory in the economic competition with capitalism.

The basic principles, purposes, and means for developing socialist integration among the COMECON countries are formulated in the Comprehensive Program. This program deals with a number of central issues: mutual consultations on basic questions of economic policy and cooperation in the area of planning, including joint scientific and technological research; coordination in foreign trade and trade policy; direct contact between corresponding organizations; and establishment in the future of new types of organizations.

Joint consultation among the COMECON countries is envisaged on basic questions of economic, scientific, and technical policy, dealing first of all with problems bearing on the mutual relations of the countries. These consultations would promote the gradual development and realization of an agreed-upon program for further intensifying and improving cooperation and integration. They would promote closer correspondence between the main lines of internal economic policy and the economic foreign policy of the fraternal countries, which would increase the economic efficiency of the socialist countries in general and would actively promote their economic convergence and political consolidation.

Further improvement is envisaged in the coordinating of the national economic plans of the COMECON countries. Along with improved coordination of five-year plans, the program contains a number of important proposals that are new in principle. Among them is the proposal for cooperation and for exchange of experience in the forecasting of the main lines of economic and technical development of the member countries, which would make joint planning possible beginning at the initial stages of drafting national economic plans. Since the solution to many fundamental production and scientific-technological problems both on the national and international scale go beyond the framework of the five-year plans, the COMECON countries would develop long-term planning. In this way, the main lines of economic development and the goals of social and economic policy and scientific and technological progress could be projected for some ten to 20 years ahead, and a specific line for the five-year plans and for the participation of a particular country in the international division of labor could be established. Coordination of five-year plans consists of the agreement on the leading trends in scientific and technical progress and collaboration in this area, the coordination of specialization and cooperation in production based on the most modern technology, and the reconciliation of choices of capital investment projects that are of mutual interest. Such coordination also includes the determination of the volumes, composition, and times of mutual deliveries of goods and services. A new feature in the planning activity of the COMECON countries is the joint planning of progressive sectors of industry and particular manufactures. Joint planning will deal with planning, production, and marketing. The aim of joint planning is to coordinate the efforts of the COMECON countries to achieve the most rapid possible advances in furthering science and technology, raising the productivity of labor, assuring the capacity to compete on the world market, and more fully meeting the needs of the fraternal countries for the products of particular branches of industry or production.

In discussing joint work on the major problems in science and technology, the Comprehensive Program envisions the use of the most efficient forms of cooperation and exchange of scientific and technical information as well as measures for providing scientific and engineering research with the most modern equipment, instruments, and materials. The system of measures proposed for this area provides for the development of scientific and technological forecasts ten to 15 years ahead, joint planning by the interested countries regarding important scientific and technological problems, wide cooperative effort and exchange of experience in the scientific and technological fields, and coordination of scientific and technical research. Special attention is paid to achieving broader collaboration in the training of scientific personnel. The COMECON countries are to undertake the creation on a broad scale of international coordinating centers dealing with selected problems of science and technology, organizing both temporary and permanent international scientific-research groups, laboratories, institutes, and drafting-design organizations. In order to assure greater material interest and mutual responsibility in the fulfillment of commitments, scientific and technical cooperation will be based broadly on contractual agreements, regulating in legal terms all basic questions of the work itself and of the use of its results.

The measures of the Comprehensive Program for developing coordination in foreign trade and improving relations with regard to foreign currency and finances are aimed at enlarging the capacity and increasing the stability of the world socialist market, improving commodity-money relations, and expanding trade between the COMECON countries. The development of trade relations between the COMECON countries will continue to be based on the state monopoly of foreign trade, with the strengthening and perfecting of the planning principles underlying such trade. The socialist countries will continue to improve and strengthen the role of long-term commercial agreements and annual protocols on commodity turnover. In addition to trade on this basis (with the quantity or value of shipments being established in advance in long-term contractual agreements and with the deliveries being obligatory), trade in particular commodities without advance specification of shipments is now possible.

In order to achieve a greater role for foreign exchange, finance, and credit in the relations between the COMECON countries, economic and organizational measures will be studied and carried out for consolidating and strengthening the role of the collective medium of foreign exchange, the transfer ruble, so that it will fully perform the basic function of an international socialist medium of exchange. The collective international medium of exchange should serve the economic relations between the COMECON countries involving foreign currency and should give the socialist countries the opportunity to make economically rational decisions, and in the future it should be used in settling accounts with the third parties. Improvement of the functioning of the International Investment Bank and the International Bank for Economic Cooperation is also planned, with the aim of developing a system for providing long-term and middle-term credit.

The Comprehensive Program also includes measures for expanding direct contacts between corresponding organizations within the COMECON countries, and it describes possible organizational forms and functions of international economic organizations that could be established by interested countries. In particular the program envisions the expansion of direct contacts between ministries, between government departments and offices, and between enterprises within the respective countries, and it provides for the creation of international economic organizations. Toward these ends, the COMECON countries are to create appropriate economic, organizational, and legal preconditions. Direct and regular contact at all levels of economic management will promote the development of initiative and increase the scope of authority of all the parts of the system of cooperation between the fraternal countries; international organizations will help in achieving the fuller realization of all the advantages that flow from the unification of effort and resources by the interested countries.

A very important feature of the Comprehensive Program is its formulation of the main tasks of cooperation in all the areas of material production—industry, agriculture, transport, construction, and water management. Thus, for example, in industry it sets the task of more fully meeting the growing needs of the COMECON countries for products from the fuel and energy industries, the metallurgical industries, and other raw-material industries on the basis of unified efforts by the interested countries to develop these sectors of the economy and introduce more rational and efficient methods of using fuel and raw materials.

The development of cooperation in agriculture aims at actively promoting increased production and export of agricultural goods and raising the level of industrialization and of productivity in this important branch of the economy. Cooperation in transport is intended to accommodate in a fuller and more timely and efficient manner the continually growing demands of the national economies and populations of the COMECON countries for transportation services of every variety. In construction, cooperation is aimed at raising the technical level of the building materials industry, introducing the latest technology into construction, improving the quality of designs, and reducing construction and design time.

In the successful realization of all the measures for advancing integration projected by the program, a primary role is played by the legal aspect of cooperation and above all by the responsibility shown by participants in carrying out their obligations. For this reason the program provides for the necessary improvement in the legal foundations of cooperation among the COMECON countries. As the Central Committee report at the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU says, “the economic integration of the socialist countries is a new and complex process. It implies a new and broader approach to many economic questions and the ability to find the most rational solutions, meeting the interests not only of the given country but of all the cooperating participants. It requires firm orientation on the latest scientific and technical achievements and toward the most profitable and technically advanced lines of production” (Materialy XXIV s”ezda KPSS, 1971, p. 9).

Mutual solutions for certain problems in developing socialist integration have already been found as a result of coordination of national economic plans for 1971–75. According to the long-term trade agreements covering the 1971–75 period, the volume of trade among the socialist countries will be over 200 billion rubles and will substantially exceed the trade volume of the 1966–70 period. Trade between the USSR and the COMECON countries will come to 77 billion rubles, which is 1.5 times above the level of the 1966–70 period. The most rapid growth will be in the mutual deliveries of goods that are required for the accelerated development of sectors setting the pace of technological progress: precision engineering, chemistry, and electronics. Contacts between planning agencies have been increased, and the range of joint planning decisions has been enlarged. In these decisions consideration is given to the processes that determine the dynamics, structure, and volume of mutual relations over the long term. There is a noticeable shift toward the practice of bringing together the resources of the interested COMECON countries on a broad scale to create additional productive capacity for enterprises producing for export. This will bring a quicker solution to many economic problems. Thus, in comparing and coordinating plans for 1971–75, a number of important problems were solved on the participation of COMECON countries in creating additional capacity in the USSR for the petroleum, gas, iron-ore, metallurgical, cellulose, and other industries. Measures have been worked out for increasing the production of new high-productivity equipment and raising the technical level of the products of the machine-building industry.

The demands of the modern scientific-technological revolution are being given increased attention in the cooperation of the COMECON countries. Dozens of major scientific and technological problems have been selected for joint work toward a solution during the current five-year period. Collective measures have been indicated that will make possible crucial advances in creating new types of technology.

At the 26th session of COMECON, held in Moscow in July 1972, the observation was made that whereas the fraternal countries had previously been engaged in testing out the main lines of development for mutual cooperation for a prolonged period, now the ways and means for developing socialist integration set down in the Comprehensive Program are fully responsive to the most vital needs of all the participating countries. The first steps taken toward realizing the program demonstrate the real advantages and point the way for the further development of the socialist type of international economic relations, combining the national and international interests of the fraternal countries. The participants in the session had high praise for the results of the work carried out in the COMECON countries and in the COMECON organizations and agencies toward realizing the program. The experience accumulated testifies that the Comprehensive Program, covering all aspects of economic and scientific-technical collaboration between the fraternal countries, is beginning to stimulate the national economies and strengthen the economic potential of the entire COMECON community.

In solving the complex problems of further developing and intensifying joint economic work, the communist and workers’ parties of the socialist countries base themselves on the proposition that economic integration will serve as a foundation for strengthening political collaboration among the fraternal countries. The normal development of integration is only possible if the unity and solidarity of the socialist commonwealth are com tinually strengthened and the foreign policy activities of the socialist states are ever more closely coordinated.

Socialist integration shows that in the course of development of the world socialist system—this new international community of sovereign socialist states—the material and spiritual prerequisites for increasing convergence in economic relations and ever closer political consolidation of the fraternal countries are being created.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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