Jean S. Gerard


The author starts with the premise that the U.S.-Soviet Maritime Agreement, which was signed on October 14, 1972, and renegotiated as of December 19, 1972, is unique. Before the agreement was signed, only about 6 percent of U.S.-Soviet trade was being carried in U.S. bottoms, whereas 94 percent was being carried in Soviet bottoms. The author highlights that one significant achievement of the Agreement was the reciprocal opening to access of forty U.S. ports and forty Soviet ports by commercial, scientific, and merchant marine training ships of the two nations upon four days advance notive. The selection of ports was based on commercial and national security considerations, and reciprocity. However, very few of the Soviet ports have unloading facilities adequate to handle the U.S.-flag vessels, whereas most of the U.S. ports can handle the Soviet vessels, many of which are smaller than the U.S. ships. Because so few of the Soviet ports have adequate facilities for large foreign commercial vessels, the congestion in the larger ports, like Odessa, was aggravated by grain shipments. When it was negotiated in 1972, the Maritime Agreement was an integral part of a series of far-reaching agreements between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. The author concludes that it is vitally important, both from a strategic and a commercial point of view, to have a strong, healthy maritime industry. In addition, increased trade with the Soviet Union may broaden economic interdependence and strengthen political cooperation.