Courtesy Reuters

Why We Should Trade with the Soviets

Trade between the United States and the Soviet Union is unlikely ever to reach mammoth proportions, regardless of political considerations or even economic systems. It is equally unlikely that either nation would ever consider such trade economically indispensable or even significantly beneficial. Nevertheless, the tendency in some quarters in the United States to dismiss both the prospects and the political importance of such trade should be less readily accepted.

It is inconceivable, in fact, that the United States could not, if both parties were willing, gradually achieve a substantial exchange of goods with a massive, modern nation, now largely urbanized and industrialized but needing far more equipment and technology to fulfill its potential; a market of some 250 million people with much the same needs as Western Europe but insufficient productive capacity to meet all of those needs; a nation with eight cities of over a million population, with an increasing level of education and living standards that now finds television and other appliances in millions of homes, and with increasingly restive consumers (whose comparatively low wages are somewhat offset by free or subsidized medical care, housing, education and other services); a potential trading partner which has demonstrated its economic and technological maturity in space, medicine, aviation, biology, electric power and nearly every basic industry.

The Soviet attempt last year to bid on six giant new turbines for the Grand Coulee Dam-a bid prevented largely for political reasons by a startled U.S. Government-is but one demonstration of the folly of our continually asserting that trade between us will always be miniscule because the U.S.S.R. produces nothing worthwhile for us to buy. On other occasions the Soviets have talked of building in this country metallurgical plants with equipment superior to our own, of licensing new medical inventions, of selling us new kinds of industrial tools.

Soviet-American trade today is miniscule. Except for the special sales of American wheat authorized by President Kennedy in 1963 and implemented under President Johnson in 1964,

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