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Trade as a tool of struggle between the global centers of power: Russia and Europe, history and modernity
Material posted: Publication date: 08-11-2014

Geopolitical events in the world, but rather major changes in the relationship between States, often follow in the Wake of economic relations [5].

An important component of economic contact between Nations is trade. Trade follows the flag, say some experts, there is no flag follows the trade - other. Such views exist in theory. In history, often for the sake of trade they started war: the Crusades (part of the Italian republics); the great geographical discoveries; the opium war, etc. Examples of political conflicts over the allocation of resources between the global centers can lead to countless. In other words the state clashed for the right to trade (reallocate) resources - the flag followed the trade.

And here return examples when trade follows the flag, not so much. Religious wars are the most striking examples, however, not all of them are so "unselfish" were, as it may seem. Moreover, it should be clearly understood in this case, political events were based only on lust for power, and not having in essence an economic (trade) interests.

In the modern world (the XX-XXI centuries) geopolitical processes is almost entirely based on economic interests [1]. And methods of realization of these interests increasingly based on economic instruments of pressure: "...methods of Commerce supplant military methods — with disposable capital in lieu of firepower, civilian innovation instead of military-technical progress and market penetration instead of garrisons and bases" [5].

Victory in a modern conflict goes not to the armed state (or a group) and the party that has the most material resources and technologies (not necessarily invented in this state).

In General, the economy is the continuation of war by other means [5]. Trade between the States for over a hundred years (since the beginning of XX century) is an important tool in the geopolitical struggle between the global centers of power, such as Russia and Europe.

The story is meant to teach humanity the error examples from the past to not repeat in the present. Considering the foreign trade of Russia with the European States in its development may be able to conclude that the Europeans, despite the centenary of the First world war forgot about all of the conflict on the continent first attempt on foreign trade of the parties to the conflict.

Russia's place in world politics and economy at the present time (2013-2014), on a number of parameters similar to value of the Russian Empire a hundred years ago (1913-1914) In the past, Russia was one of the guarantors of political stability in the world. The system of interstate agreements, or more simply "block security", as many thought at the time, was a sufficient pledge of stable growth.

However, the time for peaceful development, our country in the early twentieth century was not. The war with Japan, the Russian revolution, two wars in the Balkans, have significantly increased political antagonism between the "great powers": Britain, France, Russia on one side and Germany and Austro-Hungary on the other.

Eventually in 1914 a new round of tensions in the Balkans, unexpectedly for all countries involved Europe, and with it almost the whole world, unprecedented scale war.

The profound economic, political and cultural ties between States in 1913-1914 reached maximum progress. Interdependence in various aspects, as many believe, ensured the impossibility of resolving conflict by military means. Understanding the fatality of war between States, especially between economically strong, has not stopped the wheels of the war in 1914. The desire of the division of the world on one side (Germany), and the desire to preserve at any price the influence (UK. France, Russia) on the other hand, led eventually to the agony of the old world order in 1913-1914.

The modern world, sample 2014, show historical events in Ukraine, is also protected from entanglement in regional conflict to a global scale of conflict. The presence of leading world States of various non-military instruments (economic, political) struggle with their rivals, is no guarantee for peace.

In 2014, the world situation is very similar, in my opinion, with the events preceding the outbreak of the First world war, provided that currently only one dominant military bloc (NATO) that perform political orders of a small group of States led "citadel of democracy" – the USA.

The degree of interdependence among whole groups of States in 2014, more than a century ago, determined by economic contacts. Especially strong reciprocal relationship can be observed between neighbouring States. An example of such relations are the trade relations between the States belonging to the European Union (EU) and Russian Federation (RF) [2]. However, civil war in Ukraine changed established over the last decade, the structure of trade relations between the partners. The volume of trade between Russia and the EU for 8 months of 2014, compared to the same period of 2013, declined.

The aim of this work is to study the effect of the conflict between geopolitical centers such as Russia and Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands) on foreign trade for two periods:

  • I – foreign trade of the Russian Empire in 1913 – 1914;
  • II – foreign trade of the Russian Federation in 2013 - 2014 (data for 2014 are for January-August).

The work focused on the study of the following aspects of the external trade of Russia:

  • the share of individual European countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands) in the total volume of Russia's trade turnover;
  • the amount of the Russian export (export) and import (import);
  • commodity structure.

The first review period, the article examines foreign trade for 1913-1914 as the primary source in the study of foreign trade of Russia in 1913-1914 used data from the Annual statistical compilations. In the official statistical reports of the Russian Empire in 1913-1914 was applied following the structuring of products into groups:

  • I – life supplies (all kinds of bread, flour, cereals, dairy products, fish, eggs, salt, etc.);
  • II – raw and semi-processed materials (timber, forest products, ore, coal and coke, petroleum, metal, cement, etc.);
  • III–animal products (cattle, horses, pigs, poultry);
  • IV – factory products (glass, porcelain, earthenware, wood, metal, linen and wool.

1913 in the foreign aspect was for the Russian Empire one of the most successful. The volume of foreign trade turnover have grown in comparison with the average performance of previous years [14].

The whole Russian export of goods abroad in 1913 was estimated at 1 520 135 thousand (100%). The distribution of exports by groups was as follows (thousand RUR): vital supplies – 839 853 (55,2 %); raw materials and semi – 561 027 (36,9 %); animal products – 34 359 (2,3 %);factory products– 84 896 (5,6 %) [16].

The share of the States in domestic exports was as follows: Germany – 453 584 thousand (29.8 per cent); UK – 267 801 thousand rubles (17,6 %); the Netherlands – 177 412 (11.7 per cent); France – 100 879 thousand (6.6 percent); Italy– 73 761 (4,9 %) [16].

Imports to Russia in that year amounted to 1 374 664 thousand (100%). Were brought in following groups of products: raw materials and semi – 667 989 thousand (48,6 %) life supplies – 237 898 (17,3%); animal products – 17 615 (1,3 %); factory goods – 450 531 (32.8 per cent).

The most important European countries from where Russia has imported goods were: Germany – 209 652 thousand (47.4 per cent of the total importation); United Kingdom – 173 012 thousand rubles (12,8 %); the Netherlands – 21 389 (1,6 %); France – 56 990 thousand (4.1 percent); Italy– 16 808 (1,2 %) [16].

The proportion of the studied States in the structure of Russia's total trade, worth $ 2 799 894 thousand (100%), was as follows:

Germany – 1 105 793 thousand (38.2 per cent); UK – 440 813 thousand rubles (15,2 %); the Netherlands – 198 80І (6,9 %); France – 157 869 thousand (5.5 percent); Italy– 90 569 (3,1 %) [16].

According to the final figures of foreign trade for 1913 five European countries-partners of Russia, discussed in this work, occupied 68.9 % of foreign trade turnover. Moreover, it is necessary to highlight the importance of Germany for Russia's foreign trade, both exports and imports. The second Reich occupied almost half of the national total foreign trade in 1913. Despite this well known fact is that Germany at that time (1913) was a potential military opponent of Russia [9].

In General, the whole economic life of Russia, including foreign trade, in 1913, was on the rise. Here as a foreign researcher of the Russian foreign trade described the state of the economy in that year: "... the economic and financial situation at the moment perfectly" [20].

The tendency of growth of volume of Russian foreign trade continued in 1914. The first half of the year passed, without any significant shocks in the economy [11]. July 12, 1914 was published a remarkable document, in which local entrepreneurs gave their description of the economic position of Russia: "the Country is currently experiencing a transitional state. In agriculture, the land use system began a huge coup, the results of which are as yet only outlined, but not identifiable. In industry, after several years of crisis and stagnation, started heavy lifting and recovery. But at the same time, it became clear that this rise is insufficient, the demand for industry products in a number of industries grows faster than the supply, and unmet domestic production is covered by foreign imports. However, it was discovered that not only in the industrial field, but also in the production of raw materials, a supplier which is primarily agriculture, there is a shortage, and the import of cotton, wool, fats, silk and other products is growing at an enormous rate. Fully found that only in years of high harvest and high bread prices, a staple of our export, the country achieved a trade balance in our favor ... " [23].

The above-quoted source contains the following conclusion – the growth of the Russian economy largely depends on the supply of goods from abroad. Later in mid-summer of 1914 event in the world, namely the impact of war on trade in Europe, confirmed this statement.

At the critical moment, after the entry into war in August 1914, Russia was in the trade embargo: "Foreign trade of Russia for August and the first eight months of 1914. According to the Department of customs turnover, foreign trade of Russia for August in the European borders has been greatly reduced. Total turnover decreased by 79.5%, and imports fell by 75,4 mil. RUB. (71%) and outward to 135.2 million. RUB (85%)" [3].

Despite considerable restrictions caused by the war General indicators of foreign trade of Russia in 1914 was reduced, in comparison with 1913, only 29 %.

The total export from Russia in 1914 was estimated at 956 090 thousand (100%). The main groups of products (thousand rubles): vital supplies – 523 417 (54.8 per cent); raw materials and semi – 349 066 (36,5 %); animal products – 14 517 (1,5 %); factory products– 69 090 (7,2 %) [17].

Out of the total exports of the main consumers of Russian goods were Germany – 249 157 thousand (26.2 %); UK – 189 606 thousand (19.8 %); the Netherlands – 94 696 (9.9 %); France – 55 636 thousand (5.8 %); Italy– 40 575 (4.2 %) [17].

Imports to Russia in that year amounted to 1 097 992 thousand (100%) were mainly brought the following product groups: raw materials and semi – 520 817 thousand (47.4 %) life supplies – 198 194 (18.1 %); animal products – 13 496 (1.2 %); factory goods – 365.485 (33.3 %).

Of total imports the main partners of Russia were Germany – 429 724 thousand (39.1 per cent of the total importation); United Kingdom – 171 143 thousand (15,6 %); Netherlands – 19 442 (1.8 per cent); France – 43 898 thousand (4.0 per cent); Italy– 15.060 (1,4 %) [17].

The share of these countries in the total Russian turnover 054 2 082 thousand (100%), was as follows:

Germany (!) – 678 881 thousand (33.1 per cent); UK – 360 749 thousand rubles (17.5 percent); the Netherlands – 114 138 (5,5 %); France – 99 534 thousand (4.8 per cent); Italy – 55 635 (2.7 per cent). Overall, the share of the States in foreign trade in 1914 was 63.6 % [17].

As can be seen from the above figures the beginning of the First world war was the main reason for cutting Russia's foreign trade with its partners in Europe. The overall decline in comparison with 1913 amounted to almost 30 % (from 2 894 799 thousand rubles in 1913 to 2 054 082 thousand rubles. in 1914).

Russian exports declined in 1914, in comparison with the figures for 1913, by 37% (1 520 thousand rubles to 135 956 090 thousand rubles.). The fall of imports amounted to 21 % (374 1 664 thousand rubles to 1 097 992 thousand rubles). Of countries with positive trade balances in 1913, Russia in 1914, became a state importer. The need of military orders abroad forced the Russian government to increase the import of foreign goods. In 1914 a considerable part of foreign trade of Russia focused on Germany, was destroyed by a war [18].

Import from Russia the Union of England and France did not provide fully the Russian demands. As a result of hostilities, trade relations between Russia and its European partners, formed over decades, have been sacrificed to the political ambitions [7].

The second includes the period 2013-2014 (stats 2014, driven in January-August). One hundred years since the outbreak of the First world war, the world has changed dramatically [12]. The transformation has affected all without exception spheres of society, but particularly important are changes in the economy. The improvement of living conditions allowed for a hundred years to increase the population of the planet with 1.8 billion people in 1914 to 7.2 billion people in 2014, Russia's Role in the world economy has remained virtually the same as a century ago. The structure of Russian foreign trade for the conceptual age has not changed. Russia, as well as in the past, exports raw materials and imports manufactured goods. Such constancy can "be the envy" of many States.

In 2013 on the stabilization of economic growth worldwide trade relations of Russia with the countries of United Europe (EU) continued to expand. The main partners of Russia on the European continent were: the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands. The importance of these countries in total foreign trade turnover of Russia, in comparison with figures for 1913, decreased [6].

These changes have affected the structure and the name of the main product groups. Modern customs nomenclature is organized as follows: I – food commodities and agricultural raw materials (animals, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, tea, coffee, tobacco, alcoholic beverages, etc.); II – mineral products (oil and oil products, ore, salt, cement, etc.); III – products of the chemical industry (rubber, rubber, explosives, plastics, etc.); IV – tanning raw materials, furs and products from them; – wood and pulp and paper products (paper, books, etc.); VI – textiles, textile products and footwear (cotton, silk, chemical fiber, etc.); VII – precious stones, precious metals and articles thereof; VIII – metals and metal products (ferrous metals, zinc, tin, copper, lead, Nickel, etc.); IX – machinery, equipment and vehicles; X – other goods (glass, ceramics, clocks, furniture, toys, artwork, Antiques) [19].

After the economic crisis of 2008-2009 the European trading partners has stepped up ties with Russia. The annual trade growth between the EU and the Russian Federation has allowed to recover entire sectors of the economy after a significant drop [6]. The structure of Russian foreign trade (with all countries) for 2013 is as follows:

Name of commodity group

2013

Export

Import

the cost

%

the cost

%

Total (in millions of dollars. USA)

527266,4

100,0

314967,0

100,0

Food products and agricultural raw materials (except textile)

16227,5

3,1

43164,5

13,7

Mineral products

377080,4

71,5

6917,1

2,2

Chemical products, rubber

30789,2

5,8

50026,1

15,9

Leather raw materials, furs and products from them

609,1

0,1

1524,4

0,5

Wood and pulp and paper products

10980,4

2,1

6610,6

2,1

Textiles, textile products and footwear

928,4

0,2

18036,5

5,7

Precious stones, precious metals and products from them

14301,5

2,7

880,0

0,3

Metals and products from them

40846,3

7,7

21679,7

6,9

Machinery, equipment and vehicles

28910,0

5,5

152634,7

48,5

Other products

6593,6

1,3

13493,5

4,3

Table 1. Table compiled by the author.

Russian exports to the studied state looked as follows (in millions of dollars. USA): Germany – 37027,3 (7,0 % of the total exportation); UK – 16449,2 thousand dollars. (3,1 %); the Netherlands – 70126,1 (13,2 %); France – 9202,9 thousand dollars. (1,7 %); Italy– 39314,0 (7,4 %) [19].

Of the total volume of foreign trade, Russia mainly imported goods (in mln. USA): Germany - 37916,7 (12,0 % of total import); UK – 8106,4 (2.6 percent); the Netherlands – 5837,2 (1.8 per cent); France – 13012,2 (4,1 %); Italy – 14553,9 (4.6 per cent).

The share of these countries in total Russian trade turnover in 842233,4 (100%) for 2013 was as follows (in millions of dollars. USA): Germany – 74943,9 (8.9 %); UK – 24555,6 (2.9 percent); the Netherlands – 75963,2 (9,0 %); France –.22215,1 (2,6 %); Italy– 53868,0 (6,4 %) [15].

The trade turnover will increase in 2013 occurred due to political stability on the European continent and the global growth of both (EU and Russia) economies. The share of great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in the total trade turnover in 2013 amounted to 29.8 %. A comparison of the figures of 1913 with the numbers in 2013, the value of the States for a hundred years, for Russian foreign trade decreased more than in 2 times (in 1913 the share of these countries amounted to 68.9 %). This reduction was caused by the globalization of the world economy [15]. In 2013, Russia had trade relations with 183 States, whereas in 1913, of such States had 28. Positive dynamics of development of trade relationships between the "European five" and Russia has continued in early 2014.

As of October 2014, the world economy, is a deeply integrated system management [21]. The interdependence of States to each other has reached not experienced in the history of the scale. Specialization of different economies in the production of certain goods and services, allowed to achieve maximum production efficiency.

Despite the obvious progress in economic relations, the current relations system is not protected from political conflicts, but rather their consequences.

A vivid example confirming this thesis is the so-called "Ukrainian crisis" sample 2014. The events of the February coup in Kiev and its consequences, are only the background against which discusses the changes of foreign trade of Russia [22]. The impact of this political excess in Russia's trade with the EU as a whole, and individual countries in particular, expressed itself primarily in the form of sanctions [13].

However, despite the influence of the "North American other," in the European Union, for 8 months of 2014, a decline of Russian foreign trade with great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, was not as dramatic as we would like USA [4]. The structure of Russian foreign trade (with all countries) 2014 (January-August) represented the following system:

 

Name of commodity group

2014 (January-August)

Export

Import

the cost

%

the cost

%

Total (mil. Dol. USA)

3428856,0

100,0

1925515,3

100,0

Food products and agricultural raw materials (except textile)

118991,6

3,5

266648,0

13,8

Mineral products

2483067,9

72,4

48458,0

2,5

Chemical products, rubber

191707,7

5,6

308748,7

16,0

Leather raw materials, furs and products from them

295,3

0,1

8738,8

0,4

Wood and pulp and paper products

77744,0

2,3

39091,2

2,0

Textiles, textile products and footwear

6683,4

0,2

114184,8

5,9

Precious stones, precious metals and products from them

82780,4

2.4 GHz

6178,6

0,3

Metals and products from them

269825,0

7,9

128922,4

6,7

Machinery, equipment and vehicles

156933,2

4,6

921985,9

47,9

Other products

38169,9

1,1

82559,1

4,3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2. Table compiled by the author.

Of the total exports the main markets for Russia (mil. Dol. USA): Germany – 24514,2 (7.1% of the total exportation); UK – 9060,9 (2.6 percent); the Netherlands – 48307,3 (14,0 %); France – 5599,1 (1,6 %); Italy – 25725,6 (7.5 per cent).

Russian imports of the investigated EU member States were estimated as follows (mil. Dol. USA): Germany - 22177,1 (11.5 per cent of the total importation); United Kingdom – 5035,6 (2.6 percent); the Netherlands – 3711,8 (1.9 per cent); France – 7381,7 (3,8%); Italy – 8563,9 (4.4 per cent).

The share of these countries in total trade turnover of Russia in January-August 2014 was as follows (mil. Dol. USA): Germany – 46691,4 (up 8.7 %); UK – 14096,5 (2.6 percent); the Netherlands – 52019,2 (9.7 per cent); France – 12980,7 (2.4 percent); Italy– 34289,5 (6,4 %) [19].

For comparison, in January-August 2013, foreign trade indicators were:

Name of commodity group

2014 (January-August)

Export

Import

the cost

%

the cost

%

Total (mil. Dol. USA)

3428856,0

100,0

1925515,3

100,0

Food products and agricultural raw materials (except textile)

118991,6

3,5

266648,0

13,8

Mineral products

2483067,9

72,4

48458,0

2,5

Chemical products, rubber

191707,7

5,6

308748,7

16,0

Leather raw materials, furs and products from them

295,3

0,1

8738,8

0,4

Wood and pulp and paper products

77744,0

2,3

39091,2

2,0

Textiles, textile products and footwear

6683,4

0,2

114184,8

5,9

Precious stones, precious metals and products from them

82780,4

2.4 GHz

6178,6

0,3

Metals and products from them

269825,0

7,9

128922,4

6,7

Machinery, equipment and vehicles

156933,2

4,6

921985,9

47,9

Other products

38169,9

1,1

82559,1

4,3


  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 3. Table compiled by the author.

As can be seen from the statistical data the decrease in total turnover of Russia with the European "five" on average was 5.2 %. It is important to note one fact: less than significant volumes of trade with the partner state, the greater the decline we are seeing. France from the list of the countries had the lowest volume of trade with Russia, as a result, after the introduction of economic sanctions caused by the war in Ukraine is a decline of 16.5 %. The Netherlands, as a major European trading partner of Russia, for 8 months of 2014 the trade turnover increased by 2.8 %. And this despite the fact that the USA with their interests on the European continent, putting pressure on the EU as a whole and individual States in particular [7]. In early October 2014 about this in one of his speeches said Vice President Joe Biden: "the European Union did not really want, but the President insisted. Yes, he had to put Europe in an awkward position: despite of own economic interests, the EU forced Russia to pay," [10].

The EU, occupying almost half of the foreign trade turnover of Russia in 2014, despite political differences, still remains the main partner of Russia. Besides the five described in this paper ranks countries 29,8 % of the total volume of Russian foreign trade [24].

An important feature analyzed in the statistical data negative dynamics (according to the results statistics for January-August 2014) the growth of foreign trade turnover of Russia with main European partners [24]. This trend can be explained not only by the impact of the crisis in Ukraine, but also with General trends in the world economy, namely the slowing of global economic growth.

In 1913-1914, before the beginning of global political changes, Russia was an important player on the world political stage. The trade aspect of international relationships meant a complete failure, from which any military tools when dealing with controversial issues. Block system, as many thought, balanced the chances of victory (or defeat) in war. The main source of instability in the world in 1913-1914 was the European continent.

At the beginning of 1914 the political situation in Europe was similar to the present. Except the only differences was not explicitly one of the state dictator, which now is USA. The accumulated contradictions within the region of Europe (the Balkan Peninsula), resulted in open conflict. European countries such as Germany, UK, France, Italy and even Russia, got yourself into the millstones of the First world war.

With the outbreak of war in summer 1914, the trade between the countries, both hostile and allied, highly complicated. Russia was in a very difficult position. Not only that, since August 1914, the allies called upon Russia to fulfil its duty to the allies, and decreased income from foreign trade. The result in 1914 was the beginning of the end of "old" Russia and the emergence of "new". Changes in foreign trade of Russia, in my opinion, has had a decisive if not, then a strong influence on the process of transformation of the Russian state.

International relations in 2013-2014, according to the degree of tension between States resemble the situation 1913-1914 as in the past, today, the crisis in one region of Europe showed the true relations between individual countries and groups of countries (Russia, EU). Five countries of the economic leaders of the Old world (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands) due to our time, such as strong ties with Russia, as in the past, due to political prejudices went for the gap mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of foreign trade. Largely confrontational policies considered in the paper States due to pressure from the USA. Nevertheless, a clear loss in mutual foreign trade, bring Russia and EU countries (not only Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, and all the 23 States included in this Association) [8].

The results of comparing the characteristics of foreign trade of Russia with great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in 1913-1914 and 2013-2014, the following conclusions were made:

  • in trading relations between the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands with Russia in both the periods considered over economic interests prevailed(et) the political situation;
  • European partners of Russia in the first analyzed period (1913-1914) in the implementation of trade relations proceeded from their own interests, in modern era (2013-2014) these countries fulfil the political requirements of his main "partner" – the United States;
  • the position of Russia, both in the past and in the present is ultimately adequate to the reality and sacrificial at the same time.

PS

At the beginning of the XXI century actively in the analysis of geopolitical processes began to use the term soft power, or soft power [4]. The essence of this concept lies in coercion (no use of military force) a subject of international activities to unprofitable deeds. The main difference of this notion from the so-called hard power that coercion is using invisible to the "victims" of manipulation: political (human rights, democracy, freedom), cultural (art, literature, language), consumer (clothes, appliances). Foreign trade, as an instrument of economic pressure can also be attributed to this notion.

Trading open confrontation, as a rule, perhaps, between loyal to each other parties. And restrictions are always reciprocal in nature, in contrast to other methods of soft power, which affect only one side [4].

Stubborn S. V.

 

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