Ministry of Foreign Trade

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The Ministry of Foreign Trade was a functional ministry subordinate to Gosplan and the Council of Ministers that was responsible for foreign trade in the Soviet economy.

It was a functional ministry in that its jurisdiction cut across the responsibilities of the various branch ministries that managed production and distribution of products. It reported directly to Gosplan and the Council of Ministers. The operating units of the Ministry of Foreign Trade were the Foreign Trade Organizations (FTOs), which controlled exports and imports of specific goods, such as automobiles, aircraft, books, and so forth.

Soviet enterprises generally had no authority or means to export or import to or from abroad. The relevant FTO responded to requests from enterprises under its jurisdiction and, if approved, conducted negotiations, financing, and all other arrangements necessary for the transaction. Imports and exports, and thus the FTOs and the Ministry of Foreign Trade, were subject to the overall annual and quarterly economic plans. In this way, foreign trade was utilized to complement rather than to compete with the plan.

See also: council of ministers, soviet; foreign trade; gosplan


Gregory, Paul R., and Stuart, Robert C. (1990). Soviet Economic Structure and Performance, 4th ed. New York: HarperCollins.

Hewett, Ed A. (1988). Reforming the Soviet Economy: Equality versus Efficiency. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.

James R. Millar