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The Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement was an agreement signed on 16 March 1921 to facilitate trade between the United Kingdom and the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic. It was signed by Robert Horne, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leonid Krasin, People's Commissar of Foreign Trade.
Lloyd George first raised the proposal to drop the blockade on Russia, following the October Revolution at a meeting of the Allied Supreme Council, held on 14 January 1920, four days after the Treaty of Versailles had been ratified. Originally trade was to be restricted to being with the "Russian people", through Centrosoyuz, the All-Russian Union of Consumer Co-operative Societies. However by the end of May 1920, Leonid Krasin had arrived in London and the terms of the agreement had shifted. Also, although originally an allied proposal, the French declined Lord Curzon's invitation to participate, and the Italians sent a chargé d'affaires who only participated in one session. Meanwhile the Bolsheviks, upon hearing of the Supreme Council's intention of lifting of the blockade and developing trade with the Co-operatives, responded by taking Centrosoyuz over. Lenin wrote the executive decree promulgated by the Council of People's Commissars on 27 January which put this into effect. Krasin and his fellow delegates were nominally co-opted on to the board of Centrosoyuz, maintaining the fiction that negotiations were being carried out with the Co-operatives Union.
Krasin was accompanied by Viktor Nogin to London to engage in the negotiations. The British Cabinet discussed the proposed agreement at 10 Downing Street on 28 May 1920. Lord Curzon had previously briefed the meeting:
There were four meetings held on 31 May, 7 June, 16 June, and 29 June. The first two were more formal, but the third meeting consisted only of Lloyd George, Krasin, Sir Robert Horne, Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian and Fridtjof Nansen. However, the last meeting was to prove crucial. Both Krasin and Lloyd George agreed that there were two principal issues:
Hostile propaganda and subversion
pre-1917 debts to British creditors
Faced with an impending meeting with Britain's allies, Lloyd George drew up a four-point plan:
An armistice and end to hostile propaganda
The exchange of prisoners
Mutual recognition of outstanding debts for goods and services
Exchange of trade missions
Krasin was given 7 days in which to reply and provided passage on board HMS Vimiera to Reval. Georgy Chicherin responded on 7 July agreeing to these terms in principle.
. Lev Kamenev was appointed the head of the new negotiating team at Chicherin's insistence over Lenin's objections.
Negotiations were long and protracted. Lenin remarked at the 8th All Russian Congress of Soviets on 21 December 1920:
Ivan Maisky was to underline the importance of the agreement thus:
Full text (accessed 28 July 2009)
'The Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement, March 1921 by M. V. Glenny, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 5, No. 2. (1970), pp. 63-82.