Comecon revisited. Integration in the Eastern Bloc and Entanglements with the Global Economy.
The article examines grain imports in CMEA countries in the 970s and 980s and how these imports afected these countries’ growing global entanglements. In CMEA states, grain was largely used as animal feed. High and increasing levels of meat consumption were considered a sign of prosperity and a necessity for political stability. From roughly 97, socialist countries began importing massive amounts of grain from capitalist countries, initially mainly the United States. These imports contributed substantially to some socialist countries’ growing foreign debt. Eforts to increase domestic grain production were often pursued half-heartedly and only had moderate success. Inside the CMEA, a de-facto policy of self-suiciency, augmented by limited mostly bilateral cooperation, existed for the meat-grain sector. After 990, meat consumption in the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe fell sharply, and since that time it has only recovered slowly or not at all. Global integration – also pursued by Communist governments – thus led to only a limited increase in consumption. This essay describes the motivation of important stakeholders and the connection between global and regional integration.