Anonymous asked this question on 8/24/2000:
What countries are making the transition from a socialist or communistic economy to a free enterprise system?
JesseGordon gave this response on 8/24/2000:
Almost all countries which were socialist in the 1980s are currently making the transition to free enterprise. I'll outline the important ones, and the exceptions.
1) CENTRAL EUROPE:
East Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary are by far the most successful of the former socialist bloc. East Germany is now part of united Germany, and the other three are now members of NATO and are preparing for membership in the European Union.
2) EASTERN EUROPE:
The other former Socialist countries of Eastern Europe are not doing as well economically, but are making the transition slowly. This group includes Slovakia, Albania, Romania, and Bulgaria.
3) BALTIC STATES:
Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were part of the Soviet Union (as opposed to groups 1 & 2, which were Soviet "satellites"). They're doing about better than group 2 economically (but not as well as group 1), mostly due to help from the neighboring Scandinavian countries.
4) EUROPEAN FORMER USSR:
Byelorussia, Ukraine, and Russia itself are continuing the transition to free states. Russia is the one most reported in the news because it's the biggest. It's a fitful transition, but looks "permanent" (i.e., they won't go back to being socialist).
5) FORMER YUGOSLAVIA:
This is a very mixed bag. Slovenia is almost ready for the European Union; Croatia is a bit behind; Bosnia had a messy war so who knows; Macedonia is occupied by foreign troops (including US); and Serbia/Montenegro/Kosovo is still totalitarian. Stay tuned for the Vojvodina flare-up in a couple of years.
6) ASIA MINOR FORMER USSR:
Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are "free" states now but have been torn by war since their inception (and they border Chechnya, Russia's current war zone). So their transition is going poorly.
7) CENTRAL ASIA FORMER USSR:
These are all Muslim states and all have oil; their transition is proceeding slowly (they have "strong-man" leaders still, but are technically capitalist democracies). The list here is: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgizia, and Uzbekistan.
China gets a category by itself (which it deserves since it's 20% of the world's population). Technically, they're still socialist, but in fact they are more capitalist than most of the groups above. They have a number of "special economic zones," including Hong Kong, which are explicitly capitalist. This transition may continue without a revolution (which is how all of the ones above entered their transition), because China is so big and has US support (via the WTO, etc.).
9) OTHER ASIA:
Mongolia is transitioning very slowly; Vietnam is transitioning much faster (following China's model of capitalism within the Communist Party); Laos & Cambodia are in between. That about covers all of the countries which are making the transition.
10) STILL SOCIALIST:
The only important countries which are NOT making the transition are Cuba and North Korea. I'd predict that they'll begin their transition within a decade also.
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