[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
The Western Mail April 6th 1933
SOVIET DWINDLING TRADE
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BY GARETH JONES
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The Act authorising the prohibition of Soviet imports makes it lawful for the Government to prohibit by Proclamation the importation into the United Kingdom of all goods grown, produced, or manufactured In the Soviet Union.
If the Government makes use of the powers a severe blow will be dealt to Soviet foreign trade, which has already suffered from the world crisis Soviet exports declined from, approximately, £92,000,000 in 1928 to £56,000,000 in 1932. This decline was due to the great fall in world prices.
If Britain buys no more from Soviet Russia this dwindling foreign trade will be reduced by still another third, for the British market has in the past absorbed usually about 30 per cent, of Soviet exports and is, moreover, the only possible outlet for a number of Russia’s raw commodities.
In 1931 the United Kingdom bought £32,179,000 worth of goods from the Soviet Union, and sold goods in return to the value of only £9,044,000 - Thus there was an adverse balance of £23,000,000.
Should an end be put to Anglo-Soviet trade the loss to British exporters would thus not exceed £9,000,000 and would probably be far less, because the Soviets are drastically cutting down their orders abroad.
The main goods which the United Kingdom exports to Russia are chemicals, ferrous metals, textile machinery, electrical appliances, and iron and steel manufactures. Before the war Great Britain exported: 6,998,434 tons of coal, to the value of £4,336,000, to Russia, but in 1932 only £8,800 tons were exported, to the value of £42,701. The coal industry will, therefore, be little affected by an embargo on Soviet goods.
Chief Soviet Exports
The main exports of the Soviet Union are wheat, butter, oil, furs, timber, eggs, etc.. The export of most of these products, however, declined rapidly last year. In the first ten months of 1932 - Russia exported wheat to the value of approximately £1,200,000, compared with £6,800,000 in 1931. The export of butter declined from about £4,700,000 in 1931 to about £600,000 in 1932.
The imports of timber from Russia into Great Britain have also declined in value. In 1930 the Soviet Union exported £7,423,000 worth of soft wood (not planed or dressed). In 1932 the value was £4,522,000. In 1932 the United Kingdom imported £985,000 worth of pit-props from Russia.
The rapid decline in the value of Soviet exports made it difficult for the Soviet Union to meet its payments abroad. Up to share, and the Soviet Union’s inability to pay would be a blow to German finances.
The breakdown in Soviet foreign trade is no bright news for the capitalist world, for it means default on large payments. The main causes, namely, the decline in prices, the tariffs of the world, and the decreasing agricultural production of Russia, have, however, long been in effect.
An embargo on Soviet goods would be another factor damaging their exports.
There is no doubt that Sir Esmond Ovey has placed the facts about the whole situation before the Government. His testimony is all the more to be believed on account of his former sympathy for the Soviet Government.
When he went to Moscow from Mexico three years ago he was immediately impressed by Russia’s achievements. Some of the Moscow-British colony thought that he was too pro-Bolshevik. Indeed, I often heard him accused of prejudice in favour of the Soviet Government, and of a lack of perception of their difficulties.
He has recently, however, become fully aware of the catastrophic conditions in Russia, as I gathered a fortnight ago in the Embassy in Moscow. He is often accused of being tactless, but in his firm handling of the present case he has earned the praise of the most critical journalists in Moscow.
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