Current Support Brief
SHARP INCREASE IN SOVIET IMPORTS OF ELECTRONICS
CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE AS9
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Office of Research and Reports
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INCREASE IN SOVIET IMPOK TS OF ELECTRONICS
A wide variety of sources indicate that Soviet imports of electronics items arc increasing sharply. These increases are noted in imports from both the European Satellites and the West. Although most of this growth seems to be occurring in imports of components and production machinery, imports of some manufactured goods appear to be expanding as well. Imbalances generated by recent upward revisions of Soviet plana for the electronics industry probably have motivated the expansion. Timely support for this line of reasoning comes from statements made by senior officials of the State Committee for Electronics Technology in Moscow. 2/ The Soviet officials,
in referred to shortagea of electronics goods andthat they might have to purchase electronic components plants from the West. Although some technological advantages will accrue to the USSR from the current import of non-Bloc production machinery, it is not believed that these advantages are of predominant concern to the USSR. The basic reason behind the imports appears to be the pressureapid increase in production resulting from the revised plan goals.
On the basis of present information, accurate quantitative analysis of the increased trade is difficult,omparison of past estimates of such trade with current reports indicates that very large jumps are taking place in several areas and more moderate increases in others. In thethese increases wouldignificant impact on the Soviet electronics industry, permitting diversions of production to more strategic needa or preventing reductions in civil areas which may suffer from new military requirements.
1. Production Equipment
The firmest information available concerns Soviet imports ofproduction machinery. Large purchases of this type of equipment are known to have been negotiated in Japan. France. Italy. West Germany, and Hungary. Smaller exports are forthcoming from the UK and the US.
The impact on production of this type ol capital goods acquisition issignificant when viewed in the light of the low capital-output ratio obtaining for electronics production,ollar invested in production machineryollars or more annually in value of output-
In the past year. Japan has climbed into first place as an exporter of electronics production machinery to the USSR. eramic condenser plant7 million was sent to the USSR in the first half/illion worth of production machinery is expected to" be supplied by Japan/ In addition, the Japanese haveto supply at4 millionillion worth ofproduction machinery4 respectively. As athe Japanese plan to export aboutillion worth of electronlo the USSR, Spokesmen for the Japanese industry seeillion export totalinimum figure and have made provisions to renegotiate45 levels upward when necessary. 5/
At about the same time that the Japanese-Soviet agreement was be.ng discussed, in2 andhe USSR also was trying to obtain production facilities from the French. 6/
somewhat less important are the production facilities for metal film resistors discussed by the USSR with Metal-Lux of Italy2 and the production machinery for electrolytic and ceramic condensers sought in both Italy and West Germany in the second half 9/ The Metal-Lux equipment is reported tondapacityillion
ear. This capacitymall percentage of total Sovietproduction, but this import is given significance because of the military nature of the resistors to be produced. There is no definiteinformation available on the capacitor plant.
Three other Soviet contracts for production equipment are known to have been awarded in theonths; oneS firmachine for making television picture tubes, one to Derritron Electronics in the UKorth of unspecified "electronic industrial" and one to Hungaryathode-ray tube factory.; the USSR is known to have increased recently its efforts to procure information on electronics manufacturing technology from the US.
Soviet imports of components (electron tubes, semiconductors,resistors, and the like) also appear to have jumped sharply in volume in the past year. The bulk of these imports originates in the European Satellites; however, in the past year, at least two large orders have been made in the West as well. On the whole, informationthis increase is more tenuous than is that on production machinery.
Recent reports from East Germanyhenomenal increase in the amount of components supplied to the USSR. These components reportedly arc to be used to increase production of consumer goods in the USSR. The reports state that the value of components exported to the USSR increasedillion East German Marks (DME) and will continue at this high rate. Assuming that the value figure mentioned is an annual total for the current year, the quantity of components representedillion DME is sufficient torge portion of Soviet yearly needs in the consumer sector. On the basis of earlier estimates, the value of components exported by East Germany3 wouldillionillion DME for all foreign markets If reliable as to both amount and direction of trade, the information in question is startling, but as large as this jump in exports might appear, it is possible. Export in creases of this magnitude have been seen before in the electronics market.
A noteworthy example from East Germanyecently publicized increase Ofercent in the export of telecommunications equipment3 above that IZf
The volume of exports of electronic components to the USSR from the other European Satellites does not match the high level lhat seems tothe shipments from East Germany, but there are indications of large increases in some categories of components. Czechoslovak export of electron tubesase in point. Although the total volume of this trade docs not compare with the reported East German traffic, it appears to be greatly expanded over past quantities. For example, known exports oftubes to the USSR2 amounted to somewhat betternits. Currently it is reported that moreilliontubes have been ordered, and more lhan one-half had been delivered to the USSR by Similarly, known annual exports of klystrons from Czechoslovakia lo the USSR have jumpedotal ofnits1resent high of/ Moreover, the Czechoslovak industry has been asked by the USSR to speed up delivery of4 order of receiving tubes Another Soviet import of components that was not especially significant when compared with the East German case but was much greater than previously noted levels was an order0 worth of electron tubes from CSF of France.
3. Manufactured Goods
A final piece of evidence pointing toward new efforts to expandof electronics goods is an .unusual request received by six Austrian instrument firms from the Soviet Trade Mission in Vienna. These firms were asked to draw up lists of spares and spare parts for allpurchased from them by the USSR With the listsasis, the Austrians were then to project "realistically" what spares and spare parts, the USSR should purchase in order to keep the imported instruments in repair for the nextears. Subsequent reports have tended to confirm the existence of such negotiations and the resulting Soviet orders.Original document.