Albania's economic growth and the role of the Soviet Union
It is not possible to understand the growth of the Albanian economy without considering the role of the Soviet Union as the largest market for Albanian exports, for suppliers of non-repayable loans or very low interest rates and as a provider of technical and scientific assistance.
As for exports, about half of Albanian exports were for the Soviet market and while the remainder was exported to other eastern countries, exports to Western countries were virtually non-existent.
As for the goods exchanged, the Soviet Union imported mining products from Albania, in particular chrome and copper and agricultural products such as tobacco, fruit and citrus fruits. The Soviet Union on the other hand exported to Albania mainly capital goods such as equipment for the oil industry, mining, trucks, buses, spare parts: to appreciate the importance of the role of the Soviet Union in the post-Albanian development, it is sufficient to consider that the Soviet equipment for the Albanian oil industry constituted the 95% of all the plants, the 65% of the agricultural equipment, the 90% of the vehicles and the 82% of the agricultural tractors; in addition, Albania imported most of the grain and agricultural fertilizers from the Soviet Union.
With regard to credits, the Soviet Union only granted 422 million rubles at 2% rate during the first five-year plan; this debt was totally forgiven, including the interest due.
If one remembers that in Albania at the end of the war there were practically no factories worthy of the name, it is enough to list the factories built with credits and the Soviet assistance to realize the crucial importance of Soviet aid in the Albanian industrialization process. They were in fact built:
1) The “V.
I. Lenin and the “K. Marx.
2) The Cerrik oil processing plant.
3) The cement factory in Vlore.
4) The "Giuseppe Stalin" textile factory in Tirana.
5) The Elbasan woodworking factory.
6) The "8 Nentor" sugar processing factory in Maliq.
7) The tobacco processing factory in Shkodra.
8) The film studio "Shqiperia e Re" in Tirana.
It is evident that these new factories constituted the new industrial base of the post-war Albanian economy and that the Albanian economy did not have within it, due to its backwardness, the economic and scientific capacity to sustain such an accelerated industrialization plan and that Albanian economy could not have had such rapid development as in the 1950s without Soviet aid.
Technical assistance to Albania was just as important as financial aid to the productive sector. In the 1952 a collaboration agreement was entered into in this field between the two countries. This agreement had as its purpose the raising of the Albanian level of education and scientific knowledge which was practically non-existent at the time and which took place on different levels, from the establishment of the first Albanian university in Tirana in the 1957, to materials for research laboratories, to scholarships for Albanian students studying in the Soviet Union, to the foundation of the biological institute for agriculture "IV Miciurin". Moreover, valuable help was provided by Soviet specialists operating in Albania, passing on their knowledge in factories, the oil industry, mines and scientific research institutes; until the 1957 the Albanian parliament awarded 253 honors to the Soviet specialists who had made their contribution to improving the Albanian economy.
The Soviet aid abruptly ceased in the 1961 after the fourth congress of the Albanian labor party which denounced Soviet revisionism and sided with the anti-revisionist camp along with China. In response, the Soviet Union immediately broke all the agreements entered into between the two countries: suspended the credits due for the 1961-1965 period, denounced all commercial, technical and scientific and cultural agreements and immediately withdrew all Soviet specialists.
After the break with the Soviet Union in the 1961, the problem of the Albanian leadership was to find a powerful ally that could play, both economically and politically, the role previously played by the Soviet Union and such a powerful ally in the socialist field. could be that China. Relying on this new ally, Albania drew up the five-year plans for the 1965-70 and 1970-1975 periods, relying on Chinese financial aid and credits.
The Chinese investments for the period considered amounted to around 10% of Albanian investments, much less than the Soviet ones. With the Chinese aid, the Vau i Dejes hydroelectric plant, the large metallurgical industrial complex of Elbasan, the Luc chemical plant, the Durazzo rubber factory, the Korca high-precision instrument factory and the Berat textile factory were built. . Albania exported raw materials such as chromium, nickel, copper, iron and agricultural products to China.
Prof. Gian Paolo Caselli
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